Westinghouse and SNPTC Team Up to Develop SMR
Westinghouse and China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC) will work together to develop a small modular reactor (SMR) design licensable in both the USA and China. A MOU signed by the two companies, which have a long history of working together for the deployment of AP1000 pressurised water reactors (PWRs) in China, will see them establish a partnership to develop an SMR based on Westinghouse SMR technology.
Westinghouse senior vice president and chief technology officer Kate Jackson said the companies both wished to build a framework for SMR cooperation that would explore the potential of both domestic and international markets, and were in the early stages of negotiations on an agreement that would provide design, licensing, construction and operational certainty that other SMR suppliers would be unable to match.
“We expect to be the first to market,” she declared. SMRs are smaller and simpler units than conventional power plants – typically up to around 300 MWe in capacity – offering advantages over larger units in various circumstances such as in remote locations or where grid systems are not suitable for a large nuclear plant. They are expected to offer greater simplicity of design, economy of mass production, and reduced siting costs, with large components being fabricated remotely and transported to the operating site.
Several different SMR designs are in development around the world. The Westinghouse SMR is a 225 MWe integrated PWR in which all primary components are located inside the reactor pressure vessel. It is designed to be completely fabricated in the factory and is scaled to be shippable by rail, with passive safety systems and components drawing on the full-sized AP1000 reactor design.
Westinghouse has been working towards developing its SMR in the USA, applying for funding through federal development schemes as well as setting up collaborations with US utilities to support licensing and deployment activities. The company said that it expects the new partnership with SNPTC to accelerate the deployment of its SMR technology in the USA, but emphasised that SMR plants deployed in the USA would be domestically sourced and manufactured.
Four AP1000 reactors under construction at Haiyang and Sanmen in China are due to start up in 2014-2015 and form the first of a planned fleet of AP1000s in the country. Technology transfer to general contractor SNPTC has formed a major part of the project. The announcement of the latest Westinghouse-SNPTC collaboration comes days after the companies launched a joint venture to develop the global supply chain for the AP1000.