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Inside the next generation of nuclear energy

A top executive of NuScale, the first company to work with federal regulators on a new generation of nuclear power, recently talked with Axios about the technology's future.

Driving the news: Oregon-based NuScale is expecting a key technical review to be complete by year’s end and final design approval from the government by the second half of next year. If all goes as planned, it aims to be operating by 2026 a new kind of reactor that’s far smaller than today’s technology.

Read highlights of an interview with Thomas Mundy, NuScale’s chief commercial officer:

Axios: What’s the biggest challenge your company faces?

“Right now it’s going head to head internationally against state-supported technology companies, basically Russia and China. We’re a small commercial enterprise, we’re not a state-owned entity. We don’t have financial backing like what those companies have and going head to head and being able to offer competitive financing package presents a challenge for us.”

Axios: NuScale’s first customer for its electricity is set to be the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, which is part of the Utah state government that provides energy to the Intermountain West. Are you worried the group may opt for natural gas, which is plentiful and often cheaper?

"That’s always a possibility. … We have been able to demonstrate we can be competitive with natural gas generation and therefore they [the Utah municipal power systems] are moving down that path, siting examination, preparing their license applications, doing all the things and moving toward construction.”

Axios: NuScale, which adapts current reactor technology to a smaller and more advanced degree, has received around $300 million in funding from the federal government. How important is government support to your technology?

"It’s very significant. Not just for our program, but all [advanced reactor] technology. It’s the infusion of financial support through those [government] awards that enables us to get to the market a whole lot sooner had we not received that financial support.”

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