US Nuclear Regulatory Commission Certifies NuScale SMR Reactor

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued the final rule certifying NuScale Power’s small modular reactor (SMR), making it the seventh reactor design – and the first SMR – to be cleared by the regulator for use in the USA.

The NRC accepted NuScale’s SMR design certification application back in March 2018 and issued its final technical review in August 2020.

Here is a partial history of approved and submitted designs. There were far more submitted designs that were abandoned but the NRC cleared most of the history to hide how much they killed new nuclear designs.

The fist Pressure Water Reactors were approved under the AEC (Atomic Energy Commission). The NRC took over regularion and only variants of the approved Pressure Water and Boiling water reactors have been approved for the past 50 years.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will certify NuScale’s small modular nuclear reactor design for use in the United States. The NuScale is a smaller version of the approved pressure water reactor design which is the primary NRC design that has gotten new design variation approval over the roughly 50 year existence of the NRC.

The NRC (from 1974-2022) has certified six other designs: the Advanced Boiling Water Reactor, System 80+, AP600, AP1000, the Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor and the APR1400. Designs for original pressure water reactors and the boiler water reactors were all approved under the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) which ran from 1946 to 1974. After the AEC was replaced by the NRC, the approval of new nuclear reactor designs ground to a near halt.

It takes 7-20 years for an NRC approval and the odds of successfully getting through certification are about 20% or less. The odds seem even worse if your reactor is not submitted by Westinghouse or something Westinghouse-related. CANDU heavy water reactors (which have had versions built around the world), pebble bed reactors and high temperature reactors tried to get licenses and then applications get withdrawn after a decade or so.

Gregory Jaczko served on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from 2005 to 2009, and as its chairman from 2009 to 2012. He was appointed by President Obama. Jaczko is now openly vehemently anti-nuclear energy.

Here is the wayback machine look at the list of submitted nuclear designs from 2007.

Synonyms: Advance Passive 600
Approximate Capacity (electric): 600 MWe
Reactor Type: Pressurized Water Reactor
NRC Design Certification Status: Certified December 1999
Supporting Generating Companies (potential site): None
The AP600 is a 600 MW PWR certified by the NRC. While based on previous PWR designs, the AP600 has innovative passive safety features that permit a greatly simplified reactor design. Simplification has reduced plant components and should reduce construction costs. The AP600 has been bid overseas but has never been built. Westinghouse has deemphasized the AP600 in favor of the larger, though potentially even less expensive (on a cost per kilowatt or capacity basis) AP1000 design.

Synonyms: Advanced Passive 1000
Approximate Capacity (electric): 1117-1154 MWe
Reactor Type: Pressurized Water Reactor
NRC Design Certification Status: Certified after December 2005, though amendments have since been proposed.
Supporting Generating Companies (potential site): Duke Power (Cherokee County), Progress Energy (Harris), Southern Company (Vogtle), NuStart Energy-Tennessee Valley Authority (Bellefonte)
The AP1000 design is favored for construction at five to six potential sites (ten to twelve reactors) in the United States. The AP1000 is an enlargement of the AP600, designed to almost double the reactor’s target electricity output without proportionately increasing the total cost of building the reactor. Westinghouse anticipates that operating costs should be below the average of reactors now operating in the United States. While Westinghouse owns rights to several other designs, the AP1000 is the principal product that the company now promotes in the United States for near term deployment. The AP1000 includes innovative, passive safety features and a much simplified design intended to reduce the reactor’s material and construction costs while improving operational safety. During 2007 or 2008 it is anticipated that the AP1000 will be the subject of combined license (COL) applications to build and operate new reactors in the United States.

(General Electric and others)
Synonyms: Advanced Boiling Water Reactor
Approximate Capacity (electric): 1371-1465 MWe
Reactor Type: Boiling Water Reactor
NRC Design Certification Status: Certified May 1997. Design amendments are possible but have not been publicly announced.
Supporting Generating Companies (potential site): NRG Energy (South Texas Project); Amarillo Power

System 80+
Synonyms: None
Approximate Capacity (electric): 1300 MWe plus
Reactor Type: Pressurized Water Reactor
NRC Design Certification Status: Certified May 1997.
Supporting Generating Companies (potential site): A modified version of the design is being promoted for development in South Korea

15 thoughts on “US Nuclear Regulatory Commission Certifies NuScale SMR Reactor”

  1. Yes we had the same program Germany has. Shut down all the nuclear plants only sneaky. Like we would not be having a globule warming problem if we continued development of nuclear power. Now that it has been figured out that this is the wrong policy changes have to be made.

  2. “Gregory Jaczko served on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from 2005 to 2009, and as its chairman from 2009 to 2012. He was appointed by President Obama. Jaczko is now openly vehemently anti-nuclear energy.”

    Spoiler: He was vehemently anti-nuclear energy when Obama appointed him. The NRC’s unofficial job is to wind down the US nuclear energy while pretending to just regulate it for safety. Has been for decades now.

    • What is the solution to partisan appointees hijacking the upper echelon of the 3-letter agencies? Must they be appointees? Entrenched lifers like J.E.Hoover and Fauci create similar problems.

    • Yes, Jaczko,is the coal industries inside man,it was important to slow down nuclear power for the sake of coal miners everywhere.
      Coal miners were a great source of power for the democrats.

      • Imagine fighting to protect the future of the coal mining career. I would imagine most fathers would want to steer their kids far from that career path. There is always going to be a need for coal as a raw material (smelting). Would be advisable to get off coal for electrical generation, but it is still ramping up in India and China.

      • Haven’t heard of an energy crisis…, but if there is one, I’m sure it is good for business.

        Don’t you LOVE aggressive marketing of NuScale with the ‘si se puede’ appeals to the pro-nuclear, environmentally concerned, minority who collectively have little money and are a rather small voting block?

        My favorite is the architecture of the industrial buildings in the renderings – the swoopy roofs. We used to have grass at my power station too, before it was covered in crushed rock to minimize maintenance and OSHA reportable honeybee incidents.

        What was all this NuScale effort for? After 15 years and good money spent, NuScale finally has their business card pinned to the nuclear power bulletin board with the taglines:

        “Call us if you don’t want a Westinghouse!”

        “The other guys in Nuclear!”

        “Green, well erm, something!”

        Westinghouse takes their SMR on and off the shelf as the subsidies are promised and withdrawn – they never licensed their SMR because they know there is no market for it. The BWRX-300 is the best offering conceptually because the core is quite large at 78 MTU (NuScale 10 MTU) so it actually uses the fuel nearly as well as bigger LWRs.

        • There is an energy crisis, most people just can’t see it because they’ve been conditioned to except the outrageous cost of living that continuously creeps higher year after year. Of course there are incentives to keeping the cost of energy high, people with lots of money make even more money hand over fist the higher energy costs.

          Energy is at the core of everything produced and manufactured : from the production of inert gases like argon, carbon dioxide, and helium…to running production lines at these gigantic Tesla and Amazon warehouses. Pretty much every industry is dependent on electricity.

          Where will all the electricity come from when all these electric cars and diesel trucks come online? The scarcity of electricity will cause it to skyrocket for everybody. Unless a massive undertaking to add capacity continues…

          • I don’t see the problem. As we need more energy, we will build additional plants to supply said energy. That’s how it works.

            • It’s fine if you don’t see it, but it is there my friend. Cheap energy leads to greater economic output and prosperity.

              • I agree, cheap energy is good for human life. I thought the cost of living crept higher every year because the powers that be want steady (1-3%) inflation to keep the rich from hoarding wealth.

          • Who has had IPO?

            Nuscale IPO late 2020, share price $10. Early 2022, share price $10.50. Has lost money.

            X-Energy is going public soon.

            The NBF fan favorite LightBridge (metallic LWR fuel product) went public in late 2000 for $2,250/share and is down 99.82% today despite the occasional press release that the company is working towards eventually irradiating a specimen in a DOE test reactor… someday.

            Do not invest in Nuclear. Do not listen to Nucleation Capital or Bret Kugelmass. You will lose money if you invest in a nuclear developer or project. The most successful projects in the world are built by Russians with 85% or more of the financing guaranteed by the Russian government (current builds in Bangladesh, Egypt, Türkiye, etc.). The only person to ever get proper rich from Nuclear is the founder of private company Holtec (Kris Singh) and he makes his money from decommissioning and spent fuel trash cans paid for by the DOE.

            I don’t have money to short any enterprise that has a lot of value tied up in investor emotion. In today’s market a car company that does 1% of the sales volume has a market cap larger than all the other manufacturers combined. It is hard to short beliefs – they can be sustained and bankrupt you.

            That GME short squeeze was so brilliant. Loved that.

        • “My favorite is the architecture of the industrial buildings in the renderings – the swoopy roofs.”

          Yeah I love the gently curving roofs. Their real world diagrams have big rectangular buildings but somehow rectangles are forbidden in marketing material.

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