Samsung teams up with NuScale to develop small modular reactors

Samsung C&T has announced plans to enter the nascent small-modular reactor (SMR) market through an alliance with NuScale Power, the US company presently leading the race to develop them for the American market.

SMRs are conceived as mass-producable reactors that can be deployed much faster than a conventional nuclear power plant.

The South Korean company said yesterday that its chief executive Oh Se-chul had agreed to the cooperation deal after meeting John Hopkins, his opposite number at NuScale, on Monday at NuScale headquarters in Oregon.

NuScale is majority owned by Texas engineer Fluor, but Samsung made equity investments of $20m in 2021 and $50m in 2022 and now owns 3.5% of the NuScale’s shares.

Samsung will work on NuScale’s flagship project for US utility, Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS). It plans to establish the country’s first small-modular nuclear plant at the Idaho National Laboratory near Idaho Falls, Idaho, using a yet-to-be-decided number of NuScale’s 77-megawatt SMRs.

Samsung will help with pre-construction planning and will second its engineers to the scheme.

The partnership follows a memorandum of understanding signed last month between NuScale and three Korean companies: GS Energy, Doosan Enerbility and Samsung C&T (pictured). Under this agreement in principle, Samsung C&T was designated as the builder of the reactors and Doosan will make the pressure vessels that contain them (see further reading).

As well as UAMPS, Samsung plans to act as a strategic partner in projects in eastern Europe, including one under discussion with the government of Romania. They will also cooperate on research into hydrogen production using high-temperature steam generated by SMRs.

NuScale has also concluded an agreement with the government of Poland to deploy its reactors there by 2029.

NuScale is the only nuclear developer to have received design approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission for an SMR design.

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