Westinghouse backs out of Small Modular Reactor market

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Westinghouse Small Modular Reactor
A 2011 photo highlighting some of the key features of the Westinghouse Small Modular Reactor Design

Danny Roderick, President and CEO of Westinghouse announced that the nuclear firm is backing off of research and development of their Small Modular Reactor design.  The Westinghouse design is a scaled down version of the AP1000 reactor, designed to produce 225 MWe, which could power 45,000 residential houses.

In December, the firm was passed over for a second time by the United States Department of Energy’s SMR commercialization program.

Westinghouse Small Modular Reactor Design
A diagram of the Westinghouse Small Modular Reactor Design

Roderick clarified the issue and noted that it was not the deployment of the technology that posed the biggest problem – it was that there were no customers.  “The worst thing to do is get ahead of the market,” he added.

According to Roderick, unless Westinghouse was capable of producing 30 to 50 small modular reactors, there was no way that the firm would return its investment in the development project.  In the end, given the lack of market, and the similar lack of federal funding, Westinghouse was unable to justify the economics of small modular reactors at this point.

Westinghouse was working with St. Louis-based Ameren, which had indicated its desire to build a new reactor near the State’s only existing nuclear reactor – the Calloway nuclear power plant, if a federal investment could be secured.

Westinghouse will focus its attentions on its decommissioning business, which is a $1 billion dollar per year business for the firm – which is equivalent to Westinghouse’s new reactor construction business, and rededicate its staff to the AP1000 reactor design.

Analysts are monitoring how the companies who did receive funding from the Department of Energy perform as they evolve.

Source: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


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