Holtec International has promised to pay back public money if it fails to secure a licence for its SMR-160 reactor. The pledge forms part of its formal proposal seeking a share of US Department of Energy (DoE) funding.

The proposal has been submitted by Holtec subsidiary SMR in response to a draft Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) announced earlier in the year by DoE. Under the initiative, the DoE intends to fund up two designs for small modular reactors (SMRs) through a cost-shared partnership which will support first-of-a-kind engineering, design certification and licensing. Babcock & Wilcox (B&W), NuScale Nuclear and Westinghouse have also applied for the funding.

Holtec describes the 160 MWe SMR-160 as an “autonomous and environmentally friendly” plant. Each unit occupies less than five acres (just over 2 hectares) of land and can be operated with conventional water or air cooling, making it suitable for sites without access to large volumes of water. Shaw and Areva Inc are also participating in development work on the project.

The first SMR-160 would likely be built at the DoE’s Savannah River site, under a memorandum of agreement signed in March 2012. Similar but separate public-private partnerships were signed by the DoE with Hyperion Power Generation and NuScale Power at the same time.

Money-back offer

Holtec president and CEO Kris Singh has publicly praised the DoE’s grant offer as a “shining example of public-private synergy” and has pledged to deliver if it should win a grant. “For our part, we have informed the DoE that we will refund every dollar of public’s money spent on our staff if we fail to secure the licence for our SMR-160 reactor. We should have no right to American people’s money if we don’t deliver the promised goods,” he said in written comments on the development work.

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