U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu has awarded Westinghouse Electric Co. and General Atomics a $40 million contract for “conceptual design and planning work” on the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP).
The award has the potential to signal an upswing in contracts being issued to firms in support of the NGNP. Chu and the Administration will be watching these two firms closely to gauge success and decide how to proceed.
According to the Department of Energy: “If successful, the NGNP Demonstration Project will demonstrate high-temperature gas-cooled reactor technology that will be capable of producing electricity as well as process heat for industrial applications and will be configured for low technical and safety risk with highly reliable operations. Final cost-shared awards are subject to the negotiation of acceptable terms and conditions.”
The DOE also reports that 16 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions come from industrial process heat applications. The processed heat or steam generated by the high-temperature nuclear reactors could be used for highly-efficient electricity co-generation, which has the potential to help energy-intensive industries, such as petrochemical producers, reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
“This investment reflects President Obama’s commitment to building the next generation of nuclear reactors that will create thousands of jobs and supply the clean energy to power our economy,” said Chu. “It’s time for America to recapture the lead in the nuclear energy industry and lay the foundation for a stronger, cleaner, and more competitive economic future.”