NuScale Power, a Portland-based company, announced the cancellation of a partnership that would have delivered the first small modular nuclear reactors in the U.S. This could potentially change the renewable energy landscape and revitalize the nuclear power industry in the U.S. NuScale stands alone as the sole company to have its small modular reactor design certified by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The agreement, called the Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP), initially envisioned using 12 of NuScale’s reactors to build a 720-megawatt carbon-free power plant at the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory.
Small modular reactors, with their potential for lower construction and operation costs, as well as enhanced safety compared to conventional nuclear power plants, held great promise. However, the project met its downfall due to escalating interest rates and inflation. Inflation led to a surge in the prices of various components, with some witnessing a staggering 106% increase. Consequently, the project’s expenses ballooned by 75%, reaching $9.3 billion, and the cost of power escalated by 50%.
Several communities have withdrawn their pledges to purchase power from the new reactors, which are expected to be operational by 2030. Despite this, NuScale’s CEO, John Hopkins, has lauded the company’s collaboration with the Carbon Free Power Project and the Department of Energy as a “remarkable achievement”. He further affirmed the company’s dedication to delivering small modular reactors to customers in the U.S. and around the globe.
Mason Baker, chief executive of Utah Administrative Power Systems, expressed disappointment but also noted the invaluable lessons learned during the development of the CFPP. While the company has stated that it is pursuing opportunities globally, the project in Idaho would have marked NuScale’s inaugural commercial venture. The announcement made on Wednesday cast doubts over the company’s overall stability. By the afternoon of the following day, the company’s shares had plummeted by 33% compared to the previous day. Despite the setback, NuScale is still looking to be part of the mix in replacing retiring coal plants with carbon-free energy.