The winter meeting of the Holtec Advisory Council for SMR-160, held on February 8, 2019 in Jupiter, Florida, was led by the incoming chairman, Michael Rencheck, CEO of Bruce Power, Canada. The meeting was attended by invited industry experts from several leading organizations, including Bruce Power, Energoatom (Ukraine), Entergy, Exelon Generation, Southern, Talen Energy, NEI, SNC-Lavalin, Mitsubishi Electric, and several major suppliers which constituted a robust review team encompassing virtually all aspects of the SMR-160 program. The international contingent consisted of business and technology leaders from Canada, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates. The large contingent of participants (over 40) reflected the growing industry enthusiasm for the SMR-160 technology. Several milestone announcements (noted below) at the conference underscored the growing recognition of SMR-160 as a viable contributor to humankind’s drive for carbon-free energy generation.
Yuriy Nedashkovsky, CEO of Energoatom (Ukraine’s national nuclear generator), announced his company’s plan to establish a “consortium” with Holtec and Ukraine’s national nuclear consultant, State Scientific and Technical Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety (SSTC-NRS), to explore the environmental and technical feasibility of qualifying a “generic” SMR-160 system that can be built and operated at any candidate site in the country with absolute assurance of public health and safety. A formal announcement of the adoption of the terms of engagement for the consortium is expected shortly.
Another major development was the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Exelon Generation, adding Exelon to the SMR-160 team, which currently includes SNC-Lavalin and Mitsubishi Electric. Chris Mudrick, Exelon Generation Senior Vice President, Northeast Operations, said, “As the largest nuclear operator in the United States, Exelon Generation is pleased to partner with Holtec to develop an operating model for the SMR-160. This project is a great example of how innovation and new technologies are bringing our industry together and driving the future of nuclear power.”
Exelon Generation’s Marilyn Kray, Vice President, Nuclear Technology Strategy, said, “We are hopeful that with SMR-160 and other innovations, nuclear energy will acquire a new future.” Under the terms of the MOU, Exelon Generation plans to support SMR-160’s market acceptance, develop a generic deployment schedule and staffing plan, and assist to improve its operability and maintainability features. As SMR-160s are built around the globe, Exelon Generation could provide reactor operating services to customers that lack an established nuclear industrial infrastructure.
Several industry experts in attendance counseled the SMR project team to further sharpen its project management focus, establish a more granular goal-driven schedule, populate a more thorough risk register, and be mindful of the challenges that have stymied other SMR programs: astute advice from learned people that we must take to heart!
The SMR-160 application currently under review by Canada’s national regulator, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, is in Phase 1 of the three-phase evaluation cycle. State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU), the nuclear regulatory authority in Ukraine, is expected to coordinate its regulatory assessment of SMR-160 under a collaborative arrangement with its Canadian counterpart.