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TVA’s Plan for SMRs Runs Into Snags

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By Editors of Power Engineering

Efforts by the Tennessee Valley Authority to build a small modular nuclear reactor at its Clinch River site has run into setbacks, TVA officials said.

Joe Hoagland, TVA’s vice president of stakeholder relations, told the Knoxville News Sentinel the project still has three significant barriers that must be crossed before the project can begin.

The first barrier is a lack of electrical demand. Hoagland said the TVA hopes to have the SMR in place by the time the TVA eventually decommissions its current nuclear plants.

Secondly, the installation and operational costs of SMRs are still too high compared to other power generation technologies.

And finally, the technology is still under development. Though companies have submitted SMR designs, the review process could take up to five years.

“What we’ve really been doing is say let these technologies play out and see which ones can get over the hurdles and then we’ll seriously consider if it's cost-effective and we need it,” Hoagland said.

Though the TVA has filed an early site permit application for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, it did so due to the lengthy process for planning and building a nuclear plant. The plans don’t specify a specific design. 

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