The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Wednesday said it would issue an early site permit to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) for construction of a small modular reactor (SMR) facility at the Clinch River Site.
The license is the first of its kind for SMR technology in the United States. However, as noted by the World Nuclear Association, the TVA has yet to commit to a SMR project at the site and they have yet to endorse a specific SMR model for a future project. However, they have 20 years to complete a project under the license announced on Wednesday. In addition, the permit can be extended another 20 years.
“The permit closes several site related issues, including many environmental impacts for small reactors at the site,” the regulatory agency said.
Many anticipate SMR technology as the future for nuclear power in the United States and elsewhere. The small reactors – often envisioned at 300 MW or smaller –- are designed with built in – even failsafe – safety features. The modular design is expected to reduce the cost enormously compared to today’s full-size reactors. The cost comparisons, given major components would be standardized and constructed in factory settings, are said to be beneficial through the ability to scale a project to fit a specific community and in the cost per MW.
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Well, happy at least that someone has the foresight to move ahead on one aspect of a great but dormant sector of the energy production business.