Writer: Joey Garrand
2 min read July 2022 — Holtec International’s application for a $7.4 billion nuclear build program could put South Jersey at the epicenter of emerging nuclear technology.
“Inevitably, 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,” stated a opens in a new windowpress release by Holtec.
After having the first part of its application approved by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in March, Holtec recently submitted the second and final part of its $7.4 billion application to build four small modular reactors (SMRs) and expand the output capacity of its existing heavy manufacturing plant in Camden, NJ.
“The advanced manufacturing capabilities located in Camden will be enlarged with additional machining, robotic welding, and material handling equipment to increase the throughput of SMR-160 components to help meet the projected rise in demand for the SMR-160s expected in the next decade,” stated a opens in a new windowpress release by Holtec.
In addition, the application proposes a new giga-manufacturing facility along with identiying several locations for the first SMR-160 plants. One of the promising locations is Holtec’s Oyster Creek plant site in New Jersey that was purchased from Exelon in 2018, and the new manufacturing plant will likely be located in the region where the first SMR-160s are deployed.
The giga-manufacturing facility would be a much larger version of the modern heavy fabrication plant on Holtec’s Camden technology headquarters. Holtec opens in a new windowstates the facility would materially improve America’s nuclear manufacturing capacity and that it would be made available to other nuclear plant suppliers with capital hardware needs.
However, deployment of the SMRs will require financial support for the plant’s construction and a long-term purchase power agreement (PPA) from the host state. Thus, if New Jersey is to be selected from the candidate host states for this revolutionary project, the state must be willing to provide such support.
Small modular reactors are the next generation of nuclear technology, offering a variety of advantages over traditional nuclear plants, such as “relatvely small physical footprints, reduced capital investment, ability to be sited in locations not possible for larger nuclear plants, and provisions for incremental power additions. SMRs also offer distinct safeguards, security and nonproliferation advantages,” according to the opens in a new windowU.S. Department of Energy.
While the U.S. hasn’t pursued significant advancements in nuclear technologies over the past few decades, support has increased dramatically in recent years. In 2020 the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) opens in a new windowapproved the first U.S. SMR design by NuScale Power. On June 26, the U.S. announced a opens in a new window$14 million commitment to provide the basis for the deployment of a NuScale-designed SMR in Romania.
The development in Romania “underscores the critical need for nuclear energy, carried out under the highest standards of safety, security and nonproliferation, as a key component of the clean energy transition,” stated the U.S. Department of State in a opens in a new windowpress release. Biden opens in a new windowfrequently states the importance of nuclear to establishing a clean energy future.
In combination with South Jersey’s emerging offshore wind industry, becoming a global leader in the industry of SMRs would further position the region on the forefront of the clean energy economy in addition to the added billions of dollars in economic activity.