The Holtec International SMR Technical Advisory Council (HI-STAC) held its spring meeting on April 18, 2023, at the Company’s Technology Campus in Camden NJ. The symposium was attended by representatives from over 50 nuclear units and contractors from around the world including seven CNOs and Team Holtec partners. U.S. Department of Energy’s Assistant Secretary of Nuclear Energy, Dr. Kathryn Huff gave the keynote address. The symposium was the venue of several “breaking news items,” chief among them was the announcement by Ukraine’s SE National Nuclear Energy Generating Company “Energoatom” President, Mr. Petro Kotin, who disclosed Energoatom’s intention to establish a partnership with Holtec to accelerate the licensing and deployment of twenty (20) SMR-160’s throughout Ukraine with a focus toward former coal generation sites. The Cooperation Agreement was signed on April 21, 2023 (as previously reported in HH 38.06).
Dr. Huff noted that Mr. Kotin’s announcement was great news for continued US-Ukraine collaboration in nuclear energy and aligns with DOE’s work to advance clean and secure energy for the future. Reacting to Mr. Kotin’s announcement, Holtec’s President and CEO, Dr. Kris Singh, noted the Company’s over 20 years of business engagement in Ukraine and vowed to cooperate with Energoatom to complete the SMR-160’s design and licensing work effort for deployment in Ukraine on an expedited schedule. He saluted the resilience of the Ukrainian people in the face of russia’s barbaric attacks on the nation’s energy infrastructure and promised to redouble efforts to rebuild the nation’s power generation capacity premised on clean energy after “russia is expelled from Ukraine’s territory.” The SMR-160 reactor will be licensed by the highly respected Ukrainian Regulator whose experience includes regulatory oversight of the nation’s fleet of 15 VVER (russian-origin reactor) units in Ukraine, successful completion of a number of critically important projects such as the “New Safe Confinement Structure” for Chornobyl’s crippled reactor, commissioning of the Chornobyl Interim Spent Fuel Storage Facility [world’s largest used fuel storage facility at the Chornobyl site] (supplied by Holtec) and completion of Ukraine’s Central Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility for Ukraine’s operating reactors [Consolidated Interim Spent Fuel Storage Facility] (also designed by Holtec). Mr. Kotin’s announcement has triggered the establishment of a SMR-160 Project Office in Kyiv that will be staffed by Holtec’s and Energoatom’s engineers serving as a precursor to a large technology center akin to Holtec’s facility in Camden, NJ. The Center’s work to complete SMR-160’s development will continue as the country acts to rid itself of the russian menace from its land.
Other news extremely favorable to the fortunes of the SMR-160 program came from the Company’s Holtec Palisades subsidiary which informed the audience of Holtec’s decision to build two SMR-160 reactor units at the Palisades site to augment the site’s clean energy generation if the ongoing Palisades re-powering effort is successful.
Another important news came from Holtec’s SMR project team which pertained to the launching of two thermal-hydraulic test facilities that will be constructed at the Idaho National Laboratory later this year. A presentation of the initial results from the probability safety assessments revealed the intuitively evident finding that the SMR-160 plant is several orders of magnitude safer than conventional nuclear power plants even without crediting any operator actions. The robust safety results support the “walk-away” safety claim of the SMR-160 design and are expected to provide a compelling justification for regulatory approval of Holtec’s designation of the Controlled area boundary as the Emergency Exclusion Zone.
Virginia’s Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade, Ms. Chelsea Jenkins, shared details of Governor Youngkin’s Energy Plan, asserting that “Governor Youngkin’s all-of-the-above approach makes Virginia an ideal location to become the epicenter for new nuclear and advanced nuclear reactor value chains. Virginia’s existing nuclear industry assets along with the impressive history of leadership innovation and safely operating nuclear reactors will help to provide reliable, affordable, and clean energy to Virginia’s families and businesses while meeting the projected energy demand growth.”
The HI-STAC members and other invited guests provided several valuable inputs such as the recommendation to include the flexibility for single-unit or multi-unit arrangements in the initial licensing application. The preemptively Regulator-approved multi-unit arrangements would enable shared systems and structures to be employed to reduce costs and construction time at multi-unit sites, an expressed interest of several attendees. “This HI-STAC has provided enormous value to our SMR-160 program. We are in debt to the leaders from the industry and the government who gave us their valuable time to provide their input,” said Tom Marcille, Holtec’s VP in charge of the SMR-160 program.