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Ensuring a Balanced Mix with Advanced Nuclear

NuScale’s groundbreaking small modular reactor (SMR) technology represents an evolution in the history of nuclear power. Our mission to improve the quality of life for all humankind by continuously improving nuclear power is integrated into the entire design process for our power plant. We designed a plant that goes beyond providing always-on carbon-free power with features that make us a revolutionary leader in advanced nuclear power technology.

The NuScale plant can extensively load follow to complement intermittent power generation from wind, solar, and hydropower. The operational flexibility of our plant can balance power supply on the grid, no matter the time of day, season, or weather forecast. With manipulation of only the control rods, the NuScale Power Module (NPM) can ramp quickly from 20% to 100% power in 96 minutes, without exceeding fuel limits (and significantly faster than conventional nuclear power). The small, efficient core design and high thermal margin of the NPM is the foundation for this safe ramping functionality. Even faster ramp rates are available utilizing the turbine bypass.

This capability provides a flexible, cost-effective solution within the Energy Imbalance Market (EIM)—a means of supplying and dispatching electricity to balance fluctuations in generation and load while maintaining reliability. NuScale’s load following capability is central to the EIM and represents a significant advancement in nuclear plant operations. There are three means to change power output from a NuScale facility:

  • Turbine Bypass: Bypassing turbine steam to the condenser over a period of seconds/minutes/hours.
  • Power Maneuverability: Adjusting reactor power over a period of minutes/hours.
  • Dispatchable Modules: Taking one or more reactors offline for a period of a day or more.

These features allow the NuScale plant to balance power supply on the grid. NuScale developed an intuitive human-system interface (HSI) and innovative flexible power operation automation to assist the control room operators in: (1) accessing information, (2) selecting units to maneuver, (3) identifying the most appropriate modes of load following, and (4) initiating the plant maneuvers in a safe, reliable, and efficient manner.

Our highly automated control room can monitor and evaluate key parameters to determine which NPM units are best suited to accomplish generation maneuverability.

NuScale continues to field interest from potential customers across the country as states expand commitments to clean electricity via Renewable Portfolio Standards with Clean Energy Standards. The NuScale plant can provide reliable carbon-free power, enable more wind, solar, and hydropower generation, and support a balanced grid to accelerate the transition to clean energy in the U.S. and across the world.

While state-level clean energy efforts progress in the U.S., carbon pricing in the European Union and Canada advances, and over 100 of the world’s most influential companies have committed to 100% renewable power through the RE100 initiative1. In addition to supporting the global transition to clean energy systems, NuScale power plants can help companies meet their clean energy goals through Power Purchase Agreements, or via owning a NuScale plant and using the electricity and heat of the plant to decarbonize industrial processes.

A 2018 MIT Energy Initiative study2 found that decarbonizing the power sector will be most economical if nuclear energy’s capacity for providing vast amounts of carbon-free electricity is brought to bear. Technology-neutral state and corporate clean energy policies will go a long way to support bringing advanced nuclear technologies like NuScale’s to market. Deep decarbonization is needed to achieve climate change mitigation goals—and it is clear that nuclear energy is critical to reducing carbon emissions. NuScale is committed to providing safe, reliable, and cost competitive carbon-free power to support these efforts.


Learn more about RE 100 at there100.org.

Petti, D., Buongiorno, P. J., Corradini, M., & Parsons, J. (2018). The future of nuclear energy in a carbon-constrained world. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Energy Initiative (MITEI).