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Signature Technology:

Small Modular Reactors

Video courtesy of Babcock & Wilcox


Small Modular Reactors (SMR) are one of TVA’s three signature technologies supporting the agency’s technology innovation mission and consistent with TVA’s vision to be one of the nation’s leaders in cleaner, low-cost energy.

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.

TVA is working with Babcock & Wilcox, which is partnered with Bechtel, on a potential first-of-kind deployment of B&W’s mPower SMR design technology at TVA’s Clinch River Site near Oak Ridge, Tenn

DOE selected the mPower America team in November 2012 for cost sharing on the design and licensing of their SMR.  TVA is preparing a license application for up to four mPower SMRs at the Clinch River Site. Under the cost-share arrangement, DOE will reimburse TVA for up to 50 percent of its eligible costs toward licensing the SMRs at the Clinch River Site.

TVA began working with B&W in 2009 based on their conceptual design and robust U.S. manufacturing capability.  B&W’s SMR is being designed to produce 180 megawatts, compared with about 1,000 megawatts for a typical commercial reactor in the U.S.

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

TVA is evaluating its 1,200-acre Clinch River Site for potential SMR deployment.  Site characterization is under way, including meteorological data gathering, wetlands identification, and subsurface geotechnical investigations.  

During the next five years TVA plans to prepare and submit a license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), support NRC’s review of the license application and participate in the mPower SMR design review process.  TVA may partner with other utilities in the project to share in the costs and risks and to leverage nuclear project expertise.  A construction decision is still a number of years away.


Potential SMR Advantages

• Improved safety and security

• Reduced construction time

• More standardization

• Small footprint; more site options

• Lower financing costs


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