NRC releases licensing guidance for advanced reactors

By Zach Bright | 03/26/2024 07:00 AM EDT

The guidance aims to streamline the permitting process for developers of small nuclear reactors, including federally funded TerraPower and X-energy.

Chris Levesque, president and CEO of TerraPower, displays a fuel assembly model in Everett, Washington.

TerraPower CEO Chris Levesque displays a fuel assembly model of the company's small nuclear reactor in Everett, Washington, in 2022. The 5-foot model is about one-third actual length and would be vertical when in use, rather than horizontal. Elaine Thompson/AP

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission released new guidance Monday to smooth the way for licensing advanced reactors.

The guidance is the agency’s latest attempt to foster an industry that the Biden administration has deemed key to achieving a zero-emissions grid. The hope is that advanced small reactors could be deployed more quickly and efficiently than traditional nuclear plants.

The Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy called the guidance “big news” for developers such as TerraPower and X-energy, which will now use the finalized guidance for construction permit applications to NRC.


X-energy is “pleased” that the guidance has been finalized, spokesperson Robert McEntyre said in an email. Later this year, he said, the company plans to apply for a permit to construct its Xe-100 reactor, a gas-cooled design that would produce about 80 megawatts of energy.