Jul 17, 2019

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.”

Go deeper: Bill Gates faces ‘daunting’ nuclear energy future

Go deeper

WHO temporarily suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns

Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization is temporarily pausing tests of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment in order to review safety concerns, the agency's director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu said Monday.

Why it matters: The decision comes after a retrospective review published in The Lancet found that coronavirus patients who took hydroxychloroquine or its related drug chloroquine were more likely to die or develop an irregular heart rhythm that can lead to sudden cardiac death, compared to those who did nothing.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12 p.m. ET: 5,449,135 — Total deaths: 345,721 — Total recoveries — 2,188,200Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 a.m. ET: 1,647,741 — Total deaths: 97,811 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. 2020: Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina.
  4. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil Over 100 cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Top Boris Johnson aide defends himself after allegations he broke U.K. lockdown
  5. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  6. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Updated 44 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Dominic Cummings: "I respectfully disagree" that I broke U.K. lockdown rules

Photo: Peter Summers/Getty Images

Dominic Cummings, the top aide to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, defended himself at a press conference Monday against allegations that he broke the U.K.'s coronavirus lockdown rules by traveling to his parents' home last month while exhibiting symptoms.

What he said: "I respectfully disagree. The legal rules do not necessarily cover all circumstances, especially the ones I found myself in," Cummings told the assembled press.