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Ameren & Westinghouse Host Small Modular Nuclear Reactor Supplier Forum

On Tuesday, October 30, AIM President Ray McCarty attended a forum hosted by Ameren and Westinghouse for potential suppliers to provide products and services in support of a new industry in Missouri: manufacture of components for small modular nuclear reactors (SMR’s).

Ameren and Westinghouse have formed a team that has applied for a $452 million federal grant from the Department of Energy.  The grant funds will be used to research and develop small modular nuclear reactors in the U.S.

Small modular nuclear reactors, or SMR’s, are not just scaled-down versions of large nuclear reactors.  The technology is very different, but is not entirely new, as these reactors share many design and production characteristics with those found on nuclear submarines.

Interest in developing the technology has been growing in recent years.  Small modular nuclear reactors are attractive because they require smaller capital investment and are able to be placed in service much sooner than large nuclear reactors.  An SMR typically takes only 18-24 months to construct, reducing both the capital investment and the recovery time for construction costs.  The construction of large nuclear facilities can take a decade or more.

Westinghouse has been a technology leader since the early 1900’s and has been involved in developing AC technology, radio broadcasting, nuclear submarine development, space technology and commercial nuclear energy production.  Ameren has a nuclear plant in Callaway County, with sufficient room to build five SMR’s at that location.  Together, the companies are competing for the federal grant.

If the grant is awarded to this team, Missouri could serve as a leader in the SMR industry by establishing facilities to manufacture the components used in SMR’s.  Missouri manufacturers that are interested in becoming suppliers face tough review by federal regulators as well as Westinghouse, because the SMR’s must be safe as well as cost-effective.

Associated Industries of Missouri fully supports the grant application by Westinghouse and Ameren and also supports the development of the SMR industry in Missouri.  We are currently considering a legislative proposal that would expand the Manufacturing Jobs Act to assist companies in this industry in much the same way that the original Act helped suppliers for the auto industry.

Stay tuned for more information on this exciting opportunity as it becomes available.

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