In January 2018 NRC announced its conclusion that NuScale’s novel safety design approach eliminates the need for class 1E power. Class 1E is the regulatory standard set for the design of safety-related nuclear power plant electrical systems, and all nuclear plants in the U.S. are required to have it. In its Safety Evaluation Report, however, the NRC approved NuScale’s “Safety Classification of Passive Nuclear Power Plant Electrical Systems” Licensing Topical Report, in which the company established how its design can be safe without reliance on any safety-related electrical power. The NRC has limited its approval solely to NuScale’s design.
This was a key milestone in the review process of NuScale’s Design Certification Application (DCA). Next steps include an NRC license application, NRC-led Environmental Impact Statement, and NRC license to build and operate the facility, to start generating carbon-free electricity for customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If all goes according to plan, the plant is expected to be operational by the mid-2020s.
Weaver, who returned to INL from TerraPower earlier this year, said he would never have imagined in 2003 that NuScale would come into being much less be where it is now. “I never thought they would have said, ‘Let’s do the company ourselves,’” he said. Nor did he think the research he participated in would represent such a role in the revitalization of nuclear energy in the United States.
“It was a fun research project at the time,” he said. “More than anything, it’s refreshing to see NuScale is progressing well.”