A wee reactor with plenty more oomph. That’s what NuScale Power, a nuclear power company in the US, has achieved in what is touted as a technological breakthrough.
The Oregin-based company’s light-water reactors measure only 22.5m in height and 4.4m in width, which make them far smaller than traditional reactors. Yet they come with 20% more power output, according to the company. In addition to improved performance, the new advance-design reactors also boast cost-saving measures and improved safety features.
“[T]he real benefit is that they’re much easier to manufacture,” Jose Reyes, the company’s co-founder, said. “They can be manufactured in a factory. They can be shipped in three or four parts to the site and installed as the modules are needed. So instead of building a large plant all at once, you can add modules in 50 megawatt increments as you need the power in your region.”
NuScale Power, which is currently developing a new modular light-water reactor nuclear power plant in Idaho Falls in the state of Utah, says its factory-fabricated modules can generate 60 megawatts of electricity using a smaller, scalable version of pressurized water reactor technology. In total, a power plant can house up to a dozen individual power modules.
The American company says it has boosted the power-generating capacity of its 12-module plant without little meaningful extra cost. In fact, the plant “lowers the cost of the facility on a per kilowatt basis from an expected $5,000 to approximately $4,200,” the company says in a press release.
“It also lowers NuScale’s levelized cost of electricity by up to 18 percent, making it even more competitive with other electricity generation sources,” NuScale Power adds. “The new gross-output of a NuScale power plant to 720 MWe not only offers an impressive amount of carbon-free generation, it also measures up to significant savings when compared to today’s competing gigawatt-size plants.”
Such technological breakthroughs in nuclear power generation are welcome developments as numerous nations around the planet, Europe included, transition to alternative power sources in an effort to scale down their reliance on fossil fuels. With new plants under construction and old plants being phased out, advanced nuclear technology points the way forward.