Small Modular Reactors

In its focus on developing small modular reactors (SMRs), TVA is demonstrating its leadership in the national movement toward cleaner, low-cost energy.

As a next-generation nuclear technology with potential for improved safety and increased flexibility in terms of deployment timing and locations, small modular reactors (SMR) support the agency’s technology innovation mission and are consistent with TVA’s vision to be one of the nation’s leaders in cleaner, low-cost energy.

TVA is committed to nuclear power as a key source of low-cost, carbon-free electricity within a balanced energy generation mix, and SMRs could provide an important option for clean base-load energy for TVA’s generation portfolio. SMRs offer potential improvements in safety and security, reduced construction time, less capital expenditure and lower financing costs than large reactors.

SMR containment systems are constructed fully underground, resulting in improved safety and security. The smaller size enables components to be shipped to the site by rail or truck, allowing more of the construction to take place in factories. This process increases standardization, improves quality and shortens construction durations.

The Department of Energy (DOE) is supporting TVA’s work through an agreement which authorizes TVA to be reimbursed for up to 50 percent of its eligible costs.

TVA has submitted its early site permit (ESP) application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to asses the potential for construction and operation of small modular nuclear reactors at its 1,200-acre Clinch River Site. Valid for up to 20 years, an ESP addresses site safety, environmental protection and emergency preparedness associated with any of the light-water reactor SMR designs under development in the United States.

Potential SMR Advantages

  • Improved safety and security
  • Reduced construction time
  • More standardization
  • Small footprint; more site options
  • Lower financing costs