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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ameren Partners with Westinghouse to Build Innovative Small Nuclear Reactors

Posted By on Thu, Apr 19, 2012 at 2:35 PM

click to enlarge Callaway Nuclear Power Plant - COURTESY AMEREN MISSOURI
  • Courtesy Ameren Missouri
  • Callaway Nuclear Power Plant
Ameren Missouri and Westinghouse Electric Company today announced a partnership in order to pursue Department of Energy funds for the development and construction of new types of small nuclear reactors. If Westinghouse wins the DOE investment funds, Missouri will seek from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) a Combined Construction and Operation license (COL) for a Westinghouse Small Modular Reactor (SMR).

Nuclear operations require a lot of acronyms, don't they?

A press release on the agreement notes that:
 "Obtaining a COL from the NRC does not obligate Ameren Missouri or Missouri's other electric energy providers to build a SMR at the Callway site; however it does preserve an important energy option and positions Missouri to move forward in a timely fashion should conditions be right to build a SMR in the future."
Why would Ameren want to theoretically build a nuclear reactor right next to a nuclear reactor? The inexorable progress of technology. Callaway is rapidly approaching its 30th anniversary of operation; Westinghouse's SMR models benefit from advanced safety and power features that have been developed in the interim. The SMR will produce less energy than the existing Callaway plant (225 megawatts compared to 1,190 megawatts at Callaway), but the SMR is supposed to be more cost efficient to produce and safer.

Westinghouse plans to submit its application for the investment funding in mid-May, and the grant will be awarded in summer 2012.

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