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Holtec advances $7.4B plan to build 4 SMRs

Alan Neuhauser
Updated Jul 21, 2022
A Holtec facility
A Holtec HI-STORM UMAX dry storage system, in foreground, on site in 2019 at the decommissioned San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station south of San Clemente, CA. Photo: Getty Images

Holtec is moving forward on a $7.4 billion plan to build up to four small modular reactors in New Jersey and a "supersize" reactor factory.

Why it matters: Holtec built a business tearing down nuclear power plants, supplying equipment, and providing casks for nuclear waste — but it's never built a nuclear reactor. Now it's joined a handful of companies racing to construct an advanced reactor.

Catch up fast: Small modular reactors generate up to 300 MW, about a third of the electricity of a traditional nuclear plant.

  • They're small enough to be assembled in a factory and then transported.
  • And they're seen as posing fewer safety risks and producing less waste.

What's happening: Holtec said yesterday that it's seeking a massive federal loan to build its planned SMRs, construct a giant SMR factory and expand an advanced manufacturing facility.

  • Holtec also announced that it signed a memorandum of agreement with the utility Entergy, which operates nuclear power plants at five sites, to evaluate the feasibility of deploying a Holtec SMR in Entergy's service area.
  • The Energy Department Loan Programs Office approved Part I of the application in March. Holtec yesterday submitted Part II.

The intrigue: Electric utilities have traditionally been wary of announcing that they want to build new nuclear plants — especially in the face of cheap renewables, low-cost natural gas and, more recently, falling prices for battery storage.

  • The only two traditional reactors under construction in the U.S., at Plant Vogtle in Georgia, are now nearly seven years behind schedule and have seen their projected costs more than double to $30 billion.
  • Nuclear power is also still dogged by concerns about safety and security.

Of note: Holtec is the largest U.S. exporter of nuclear plant equipment.

What's next: Holtec says its planned SMRs could be built at southern New Jersey's Oyster Creek nuclear plant, which shut down in 2018.

  • But the location of its supersize SMR factory is TBD — and Holtec is starting to court political leaders:
  • "The first mover state will become the leader in the emerging industry of small modular reactors with tens of thousands of new high-paying jobs in manufacturing, reactor support services, nuclear plant operations and related areas," the company said in its release.
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