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Subsidiary of Babcock & Wilcox signs agreement for small modular reactor funding

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The Babcock & Wilcox Co. said Monday that a subsidiary, Babcock & Wilcox mPower Inc. (B&W mPower), and the U.S. Department of Energy have signed a cooperative agreement for funding of as much as $226 million through the federal agency’s Small Modular Reactor (SMR) Licensing Technical Support Program.

Under the agreement, first announced in November, the DOE will share costs on the design, certification and licensing of the B&W mPower small modular reactor design, with B&W providing at least 50 percent of the total cost.

The B&W mPower reactor, whose integrated system test facility is located in Lynchburg, is an advanced integral pressurized water reactor. It has the ability to provide output in increments of 180 megawatts for a four-year operating cycle without refueling.

According to Babcock & Wilcox, which has its headquarters in Charlotte, the $79 million allocated for the first year of the program will be immediately available to the B&W mPower program. While the DOE has projected that approximately $150 million will be made available during the five-year period of the award — subject to incremental appropriations from Congress and B&W mPower’s compliance with the terms of the cooperative agreement — the agreement allows for $226 million or more in federal funding.

“The Department is pleased to complete this important step in our SMR Licensing Technical Support Program,” Peter Lyons, U.S. Department of Energy assistant secretary for nuclear energy, said in a statement. “Our work with B&W mPower will help advance the commercialization of safe and efficient SMRs in the United States. “

The signing of the cooperative agreement formalizes B&W’s agreement with DOE, following the selection of the mPower America team — including B&W, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and Bechtel. They were the winner of DOE’s competitive bid funding opportunity that supports the commercial demonstration of the B&W mPower SMR by 2022.

The Tennessee Valley Authority plans to use the first 180 megawatt mPower SMR for commercial operation at its Clinch River site in Roane County, Tenn., by 2022, with as many as six mPower units at that site.

B&W mPower and Bechtel (who together formed Generation mPower LLC) will provide licensing and engineering support for the project.

“This award represents another key milestone in the work to establish the world’s first commercially viable SMR nuclear plant,” said E. James Ferland, president and CEO of B&W.

“This cooperative agreement signing sends a strong signal from the DOE endorsing SMR technology and our plans to seek a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission,” said TVA Senior Vice President of Policy and Oversight, Joe Hoagland. “SMRs offer TVA an important new option for achieving clean, base-load electricity generation …”

Now that the agreement has been signed, geological characterization studies will begin at the Clinch River Site in about six weeks. The mPower America team also will develop a preliminary safety analysis report, a design certification application for the mPower plant and a construction permit application for up to four mPower SMR units. Earlier this week, the DOE issued a new funding opportunity announcement, saying it will solicit proposals for other cost-shared modular projects that have the potential to be licensed by the NRC by 2025.


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