Doosan Heavy has struggled as atomic power is phased out
TOKYO — Miniature nuclear reactors that use key components from South Korea’s Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction have won first-of-its-kind certification for use in the U.S.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in late August approved the use of small reactor modules, or SMRs, for a project being undertaken by the American company NuScale Power in the state of Utah. Doosan agreed to provide NuScale with enough reactor and turbine parts to build a 12-module plant under a $1.3 billion contract.
The project, commissioned by Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, is due to break ground in 2023 with the plant slated to start up in 2029.
SMRs are part of a South Korea public-private initiative to export System-integrated Modular Advanced Reactor technology across the globe.
About 650 employees, more than 10% of the total staff, have accepted voluntary retirement packages, and the company has divested mainline businesses, such as a construction and real estate unit, to shore up its financial base.
Japanese and U.S. companies are betting on SMRs as well. A joint venture between Hitachi and General Electric — GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy — is undergoing an NRC safety review for its SMR. Demand is anticipated from the replacement of gas-burning power plants, and adoption of the small reactors in Japan is part of the country’s long-term energy goals.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries looks to commercialize SMRs in the 2040s. The company is developing units that will work in power plants and onboard ships. Mitsubishi Heavy sees demand from island populations that wish to produce their own power.