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TVA preparing construction permit application for nuclear reactor at Clinch River site

TVA has also entered a collaboration with multiple companies to help fund the development and deployment of a specific small modular reactor.

WASHINGTON D.C., DC — The Tennessee Valley Authority announced Thursday, March 23, that it's preparing a construction permit application for a small modular reactor (SMR) at the Clinch River site near Oak Ridge. 

The TVA also announced that it is exploring additional sites in its service area for potential SMR deployments. 

TVA is now in a technical collaboration agreement with Synthos Green Energy, Ontario Power Generation and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy to help in the deployment of SMRs, specifically GE Hitachi's BWRX-300.

As part of the collaboration, each company will help fund a portion of GE Hitachi's overall cost in the production and development of the BWRX-300. The company anticipates these costs will be around $400 million.  

In February 2022, TVA announced that its board had approved $200 million for the research on the feasibility of reactors at the Clinch River Site. 

TVA's New Nuclear Program aims to accelerate progress toward its aspiration of a net-zero carbon energy future. 

"We cannot pursue new nuclear technology alone; this must be a national effort that we do in partnership with other utilities, research institutes, and state and federal governments," TVA said. "TVA will collaborate with other entities to share the costs and risk associated with evaluating advance reactor designs."

However, not everyone thought agreed thought positively about a new nuclear reactor site. Stephen Smith, Executive Direction with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, calls this ambitious plan by the TVA a "pipe dream."

He said with very few details on execution, it's unrealistic and expensive.

"We see all this enthusiasm and people jumping up and down and saying how great something is," he said. "We don't have a design, we don't have a cost. We don't have a schedule."

He said the TVA has a history of leading projects that go over budget and over their timeline, and said this project could be the same.

"If you don't study and understand history, you're bound to repeat it," Smith said. "And the history with the TVA and nuclear power from a cost perspective is not a good one."

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