The small nuclear reactors that could be built along the Clinch River could provide enough electricity to power several cities the size of Oak Ridge. They could also be, depending upon the timing, the first commercial reactors of their type in the United States.
They’re known as small modular reactors, or SMRs. They could generate 80 to 200 megawatts each. One hundred megawatts is enough to power about 60,000 homes. Oak Ridge has about 12,000 homes.
Several companies are working on SMR designs, but so far none have been certified by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said Jim Hopson, public relations manager for the Tennessee Valley Authority.
By May 12, TVA plans to submit an application to the NRC for what is known as an early site permit to build SMRs on the Clinch River Site in west Oak Ridge. Hopson likened an early site permit, or ESP, to a pre-approval for a home loan, although he said that is an oversimplification.
“It’s similar to pre-approving yourself for a loan,” Hopson said Friday. “You get the preliminaries out of the way.” [Read more…]