US funds energy distribution and nuclear power projects

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is investing $311m in multiple projects aimed at improving the efficiency of power grid in the country and developing advanced nuclear reactor designs.

Southern Company and X-energy have been awarded up to $80m as grants to explore, develop and demonstrate advanced nuclear reactor technologies.

The firms have been granted around $40m each for addressing technical challenges to design, construction, and operation of next generation nuclear reactors.

This assistance is in line with the Obama Administration’s aim to generate more carbon-free energy and control climate change.

X-energy will be using the DOE funds for developing the Xe-100 pebble bed high temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR). The firm will partner with BWXT, Teledyne Brown Engineering, SGL Group, Oregon State University, Idaho National Laboratory, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the project.

X-energy president Harlan Bowers said: “Our Xe-100 pebble bed HTGR builds upon the Department of Energy’s significant investment in TRISO fuel technology under the Next Generation Nuclear Plant / Advanced Gas Reactor Programmes.”

Southern Company will use the funds to research on the development of molten chloride fast reactors (MCFR) for nuclear power industry.

The firm will be partnering with TerraPower, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Electric Power Research Institute and Vanderbilt University for the developmental works.

Southern Company chairman, president and CEO Thomas Fanning said: “Nuclear energy currently accounts for about 20% of the nation’s energy mix, and its importance will continue to grow as America transitions to a low-carbon energy future.

“This collaborative research effort will help accelerate the development of next generation nuclear reactors.”

DOE has announced $11m in funding for seven transformational projects that can improve the power grid in the country, by developing realistic, open-access models and data repositories.

The funding has been awarded by DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) under a new programme Generating Realistic Information for the Development of Distribution and Transmission Algorithms (GRID DATA).

This follows DOE’s $220m Grid Modernisation Multi-Year Programme Plan in line with the country’s initiatives to improve resiliency, reliability, and security of its electricity delivery system.

The comprehensive programme is expected to fund research and development for around three years and falls under the Grid Modernisation Laboratory Consortium.