ARKANSAS, Nov 10 (Future Headlines)- Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) and NuScale Power Corporation have jointly decided to terminate the Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP), a significant initiative to deploy NuScale small modular reactor (SMR) units near Idaho Falls. The project aimed for operation by 2029, but despite substantial efforts, insufficient subscriptions make it unlikely to proceed. Both parties agreed that ending the project is the most prudent decision.

In July, CFPP LLC applied to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for Limited Work Authorization to initiate early construction activities at the proposed site near Idaho Falls. Early-scope construction was anticipated to commence in mid-2025.

UAMPS, a political subdivision of the state of Utah, identified a preferred site for the SMR construction near Idaho Falls in 2016. In 2020, the US Department of Energy approved a multi-year cost share award of up to USD 1.4 billion to CFPP LLC to demonstrate and deploy NuScale’s power plant. Combined license application work began in 2021.

UAMPS was working towards submitting a combined construction and operating license application to the NRC in January 2024. The proposed plant was designed to incorporate six of NuScale’s 77 MWe power modules, generating a total of 462 MWe of electricity.

UAMPS CEO Mason Baker expressed disappointment over the decision, acknowledging the years of hard work invested in the CFPP. Despite the setback, both UAMPS and NuScale deemed ending the project as the best course, guided by the interests of UAMPS member communities.

  • NuScale’s SMR Technology

VOYGR SMR: NuScale’s VOYGR SMR is a pressurized water reactor featuring all components for steam generation and heat exchange incorporated into a single 77 MWe unit. It is the first SMR design to receive approval from the NRC.

NuScale’s SMR technology has garnered attention globally, with considerations for construction in various countries, including Poland. KGHM Polska Miedź SA’s plan to build a power plant based on NuScale Power’s SMR in Poland has received approval from the Ministry of Climate and Environment.

NuScale President and CEO John Hopkins highlighted that the collaboration with UAMPS over the past decade had advanced NuScale’s technology to the stage of commercial deployment. Despite the setback with CFPP, NuScale intends to continue working with other domestic and international customers to bring its American SMR technology to market and contribute to the growth of the US nuclear manufacturing base.

The US Nuclear Energy Institute expressed disappointment over the termination of CFPP but acknowledged the challenges. It noted that despite significant effort, the project couldn’t secure the necessary subscriptions for the current phase, emphasizing that the demand for reliable, affordable, and clean generation is growing worldwide.

The Institute highlighted that the reluctance to move forward was not a question of the promise of next-generation nuclear but rather the comfort customers have in being the first to bring the product to market. It emphasized the ongoing global demand for reliable and clean energy generation.

In May 2022, NuScale Power merged with Spring Valley Acquisition Corp, becoming the world’s first publicly traded SMR technology provider. The business combination aimed to accelerate the commercialization of NuScale’s SMR technology.

UAMPS, a project-based consortium, provides power supply, transmission, and other services to its 50 members across several states. CFPP LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of UAMPS, played a pivotal role in the Carbon Free Power Project.

The termination of the Carbon Free Power Project represents a setback in the deployment of small modular reactor technology. Despite this, NuScale remains committed to advancing its SMR technology globally, contributing to clean and sustainable energy solutions. The decision reflects the complexities of pioneering nuclear projects and the challenges associated with being a first mover in the market.

  • Future Implications and NuScale’s Resilience

The termination of the Carbon Free Power Project underscores the challenges inherent in pioneering nuclear projects, especially those involving innovative technologies like small modular reactors. Being at the forefront of technological advancements often involves navigating uncertainties, regulatory hurdles, and securing sufficient market interest.

Despite the setback with CFPP, NuScale’s commitment to advancing its SMR technology remains steadfast. The company’s resilience is evident in its strategic approach to continue working with other domestic and international customers. The global consideration of NuScale’s SMR for deployment in Poland further exemplifies the technology’s appeal on the international stage.

The US Nuclear Energy Institute’s acknowledgment of the growing demand for reliable, affordable, and clean generation reflects a broader trend in the energy landscape. As the world grapples with the imperative to reduce carbon emissions and transition to cleaner energy sources, innovative nuclear technologies like NuScale’s SMR continue to play a crucial role in meeting these challenges.

  • UAMPS and Lessons for Future Projects

UAMPS CEO Mason Baker’s emphasis on prioritizing the interests of UAMPS member communities as the guiding light in such decisions provides valuable insights. Future nuclear projects can draw lessons from the need to align project goals with the expectations and needs of the communities they aim to serve.

While the CFPP did not move forward, the collaboration between UAMPS and NuScale has contributed to the advancement of NuScale’s SMR technology. This collaboration model can inform future engagements in the nuclear sector, emphasizing the importance of shared goals, expertise exchange, and resilient partnerships.

  • Market Dynamics and Regulatory Considerations

The US Nuclear Energy Institute’s mention of the “comfort that the customer has in being the first to bring the product to market” highlights a psychological barrier that often accompanies first-of-its-kind projects. Future nuclear endeavors may benefit from proactive efforts to address concerns and build confidence among stakeholders.

Navigating the regulatory landscape is a critical aspect of nuclear projects. The termination of CFPP, despite regulatory advancements and NRC approval for NuScale’s SMR, suggests that regulatory milestones alone may not guarantee the seamless progression of projects. Future endeavors may need to consider additional factors influencing market dynamics and project viability.

  • Conclusion and Path Forward

The termination of the Carbon Free Power Project marks a challenging moment in the journey toward deploying small modular reactor technology. NuScale’s resilience and commitment to global deployment showcase the enduring potential of innovative nuclear solutions. The lessons learned from CFPP, UAMPS’s emphasis on member community interests, and insights into market dynamics contribute to the collective knowledge base for future nuclear projects.

As the world continues its pursuit of clean, reliable, and sustainable energy, the nuclear sector remains a pivotal player in the transition to a low-carbon future. While setbacks are inherent in pioneering endeavors, they provide valuable lessons that can shape the path forward for innovative nuclear technologies. The global demand for clean energy and the role of nuclear power in meeting this demand position the industry for ongoing exploration, collaboration, and advancements.

Reporting by Sarah White