Firm awards steam generator prototype contract to Pennsylvania facility
OLYMPIA… A leading developer of advanced nuclear technology has delivered a blow to the state of Washington by announcing plans to build prototype parts for its small module reactors in Pennsylvania, says Senator Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, a member of the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee and the Legislature’s most vocal advocate for nuclear power.
With the signing of a new contract between NuScale Power and Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC) earlier this month, the state of Pennsylvania obtained significant investment in the future manufacturing of advanced small modular nuclear technology. Brown believes these are the kinds of family-wage manufacturing jobs the state of Washington should be attracting.
“This is a wake-up call for our state,” said Brown. “Are we going to compete for these kinds of jobs? While other states are moving ahead, our state is putting up roadblocks. Scientific advancement has made nuclear power safer than ever, and in the Tri-Cities we have the industry’s best-trained workforce. Yet we have trouble landing new projects because of ideological opposition.”
The multi-phase Pennsylvania contract involves work at the Center for Advanced Nuclear Manufacturing (CANM), an independent, nonprofit, research organization that is run by CTC. According to NuScale Power, the contract covers prototype work manufacturing helical coil steam generators, a major component to the NuScale small reactor design.
NuScale’s commitment to a facility dedicated to advanced nuclear science outside Washington State indicates competition is getting stiffer, Brown said. Washington could be left behind as nuclear engineers and other highly trained personnel migrate to new areas of industry growth.
Pennsylvania is not the only state embracing the advanced technology of small modular reactors. As part of a joint project with the U.S. Department of Energy, the Tennessee Valley Authority has begun the permit process to place small modular reactors at its Clinch River site, something Brown says Washington should be working to do with Hanford. Closer to home, the U.S. Department of Energy has granted NuScale a permit to build a small modular reactor at the desert site of the Idaho National Laboratory. The site could ultimately house twelve small modular reactors and facilitate research on the modular technology.
“We need to think strategically about our competitiveness for the jobs of tomorrow,” said Brown. “We need to foster innovation and embrace the exploration of emerging technologies. If we do not, we’re not going to compete. Period. The time for resting on our laurels is over.”
Brown introduced several measures in 2017 designed to make Washington more competitive in the emerging advanced nuclear technology industry, including:
- Senate Bill 5467, which would include nuclear energy in the definition of a “qualified alternative energy resource”;
- Senate Bill 5468, which would expand the state’s principles that guide development of its energy strategy to include nuclear energy;
- Senate Bill 5475, which would provide a business-and-occupation tax incentive for the production of small nuclear reactors; and
Brown called the bills crucial to creating a long-term environment conducive to both clean energy and economic development.
“This technology holds the promise of high-tech and family-wage manufacturing jobs and carbon-emission free, low-cost energy production,” Brown explained. “It would be a shame for the future of Washington if we can’t find a way to lead on this.”