The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Board of Directors ratified approval of a programmatic approach to exploring advanced nuclear technology as a component of its decarbonization goals as discussed at its meeting Thursday.
According to a press release by the company, as part of the development of innovative, cost-effective technologies that will achieve TVA’s aspiration of a net-zero carbon energy future, as outlined in its strategic intent and guiding principles, advanced nuclear technology is one of several technologies TVA is investigating. Other technologies include next-generation energy storage, carbon capture, new hydroelectric pumped storage and hydrogen. In addition, TVA continues to expand its renewable energy portfolio, including the targeted addition of up to 10,000 megawatts of solar energy by 2035.
“Achieving a carbon-free energy future is a shared priority and TVA is developing a diverse portfolio of clean energy sources – like advanced nuclear technologies – that will help address this challenge,” Jeff Lyash, TVA president and chief executive officer said in a statement. “There is no single answer to achieving our nation’s clean energy targets – it will require collaboration and innovation. Working alongside industry partners will allow TVA to go further, faster in developing innovative, cost-effective technologies that will not only help the people of the Tennessee Valley but also support the energy security of the nation.”
The new nuclear program (NNP) will provide a disciplined, systematic “roadmap” for TVA’s exploration of advanced nuclear technology, both in terms of various reactor designs being proposed and potential locations where such facilities may be needed in the region to support future energy needs, according to the press release. The process will include specific decision points that would allow TVA to withdraw from plans or projects if they are no longer feasible or not in the best interest of the region.
The NNP will also coordinate TVA’s collaborative efforts with other utilities, government agencies, research institutions and organizations on advanced nuclear technologies, the press release notes.
One of the first tasks the NNP will pursue is a project to develop a nuclear regulatory commission construction permit application and potentially deploy a light-water small modular reactor at the Clinch River site near Oak Ridge, which currently holds the only NRC early site permit for SMRs in the nation, according to the press release.
Tennessee Representative Tim Burchett (R-TN-02) applauded TVA’s NNP, writing on Twitter, “Nuclear power supports good paying jobs while keeping energy prices stable for consumers. Increasing domestic nuclear production is the future of American energy independence, and I am excited @TVAnews innovators are working towards expanding its use in the Southeast.”
Nuclear power supports good paying jobs while keeping energy prices stable for consumers. Increasing domestic nuclear production is the future of American energy independence, and I am excited @TVAnews innovators are working towards expanding its use in the Southeast. https://t.co/F1tyKvpiCD
— Rep. Tim Burchett (@RepTimBurchett) February 10, 2022
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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network.