Japan’s Chubu Electric Power Co has decided to invest in US NuScale Power and has agreed to acquire issued shares in NuScale from Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC). NuScale, established in Portland Oregon in 2007 is working to commercialise its small modular reactor (SMR) design – the only SMR design which has been certified by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

In 2022, JBIC made a strategic investment of $110m in NuScale through a purchase of equity from NuScale majority owner Fluor Corporation. The bank's investment was via a special-purpose company established by Japanese engineering companies JGC Corporation and IHI Corporation to make equity investments in NuScale, Japan NuScale Innovation.

Chubu noted that the NuScale SMR is being considered in more than 10 countries, and that the first project in the US is expected to begin operation in 2029. Deployment of the first NuScale VOYGR SMR has benefitted from financial support of more than $1.3bn from the US Department of Energy (DOE).

NuScale Power’s SMR design was certified by NRC in January when its final rule was published in the Federal Register. The rule took effect on 21 February. NRC accepted NuScale’s SMR design certification application in 2018 and issued its final technical review in August 2020. In July 2022, the NRC Commission voted to certify the design, which was the first SMR approved by the NRC for use in the USA.

NuScale’s SMR is an advanced light-water SMR with each module capable of generating 50 MWe. The VOYGR SMR can house up to 12 factory-built power modules. NRC is now reviewing an uprate to enable each module to generate up to 77 MWe. The design comprises six co-located pressurised-water reactor modules. The modules use natural, “passive” processes such as convection and gravity in operating systems and safety features. The modules, providing a total output of approximately 460 MWe, are submerged in a pool built below ground level.

Hiroki Sato, CEO of the Global Business Division at Chubu explained that, by investing in NuScale, “we aim to earn revenue from NuScale's future business expansion”. He added: “In addition, it is important to secure all options for the sustainable use of nuclear power generation, which is indispensable for realising a decarbonised society and we will continue to promote social implementation of innovative technologies to enhance our corporate value.”

Chubu owns the Hamaoka NPP in Shizuoka prefecture. The plant comprises two boiling water reactors and an advanced boiling water reactor, all currently closed. Chubu is seeking clearance from Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority to restart them after ensuring that they meet the stricter post-Fukushima regulations introduced in 2013.

Date: Wednesday, 13 September 2023
Original article: neimagazine.com/news/newschubu-electric-to-invest-in-nuscale-11140076