The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) selected GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) to lead a team of industry experts for an advanced nuclear technology development project, the company announced Monday.
The project will bring together a team consisting of clean energy producer Exelon Generation, Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy (HGNE), global engineering, construction, and project management company Bechtel and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) "to examine ways to simplify the reactor design, reduce plant construction costs, and lower operations and maintenance costs for the GEH BWRX-300, a 300 megawatt electric (MWe) small modular reactor," a press release read.
The project will receive more than $1.9 million in DOE funding, part of a nearly $20 million investment in advanced nuclear technology announced by the department.
GEH forecasts that the BWRX-300 will "through dramatic design simplification" require up to 60 percent less capital cost per megawatt when compared to other water-cooled small and medium-sized reactors or existing large nuclear designs.
"If these savings can be achieved, the BWRX-300 can become cost-competitive with power generation from combined cycle gas and renewables," it said.
Jon Ball, executive vice president of nuclear plant projects for GEH, described the BWRX-300 as "a potentially game changing technology".
"We have assembled a strong team of experts in nuclear plant design, construction methods and plant operations, with the goal of developing a clean energy solution that is cost-competitive with combined cycle gas generation and renewables," he said.
Marilyn Kray, vice president of nuclear technology and strategy for Exelon Generation, said there was "promise" in advanced nuclear technologies, including small modular reactors like the BWRX-300, which she said were "efficient and economical".
"As the nation's largest source of zero-emission energy, nuclear is critical to achieving the clean energy goals of our customers and communities, and must continue to be part of the U.S. energy mix," she added.
Based in Wilmington, North Carolina, and established in 2007, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy is a global nuclear alliance created by GE and Japan's Hitachi to provide advanced reactors and nuclear services.
Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy, a joint venture established in July 2007, engages in the development, planning, design, manufacture, inspection, installation, pre-operation, and maintenance of nuclear reactor-related equipment and is able to execute integrated project management. HGNE has been involved with 23 reactors in Japan to date, including those currently under construction.
By Hale Turkes