Small modular reactor (SMR) developer NuScale Power has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Xcel Energy Inc to explore the feasibility of Xcel Energy serving as a plant operator at NuScale plants. Portland, Oregon-based is seeking an experienced nuclear plant operator to provide potential customers with operational support.
The MoU will see the two parties examine the potential for Xcel to become NuScale's preferred partner to provide a suite of operational power plant services to NuScale customers based on Xcel's nuclear operational management systems. The memorandum does not include a formal operating agreement, but creates a framework for negotiating definitive agreements for Xcel Energy and NuScale to work together, NuScale said.
Xcel Energy owns and operates the Monticello and Prairie Island nuclear power plants, both in Minnesota, and claims over 50 years of nuclear operating experience. "We understand the need for new technologies to meet the need for always on, carbon-free electricity,” said Pete Gardner, the company's senior vice president and chief nuclear officer. NuScale's technology "has the potential to provide the reliable, carbon-free electricity needed for a clean energy future," he added.
NuScale's SMR features a 77 MWe Power Module using pressurised water reactor technology, deployed in power plants housing up to four, six, or 12 individual power modules. In August 2020, it became the first, and so far, only, SMR design to receive approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, with the regulator publishing its proposed final rule certifying the NuScale plant design in July of this year. NuScale aims at commercialising the SMR technology by the end of this decade, and is working with Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems to build six 77 MWe NuScale Power Modules on a site at Idaho National Laboratory, known as the Carbon Free Power Project. NuScale's majority investor is Fluor Corporation.