Babcock & Wilcox has won the U.S. Department of Energy’s competitive auction for its Small Modular Reactor (SMR) Licensing Technical Support Programme, beating three other contenders. However, the DoE has revealed plans to issue a follow-on solicitation open to other companies and manufacturers, focused on furthering small modular reactor efficiency, operations and design aspects.

B&W’s 180 MW pressurised water reactor design, mPower, had already beaten three other contenders for the first funding award announced in March 2012. They were Westinghouse’s 225 MW SMR; NuScale Power, which envisages a 540 MW power plant comprise 12-mini-reactors; and Holtec with its 140 MWe design, dubbed HI-SMUR (for Holtec Inherently Safe Modular Underground Reactor).

B&W will receive the funding to support the accelerated development of its mPower reactor. DOE will invest up to half of the total project cost, with the project’s industry partners matching this investment by at least one-to-one, DOE said, adding that the specific total will be negotiated between the Energy Department and B&W.

“The funding programme, expected to be administered over the next five years, is the cornerstone of a public-private partnership created to share the challenges of developing and deploying SMRs across the U.S. before 2022,” B&W said in a statement.

B&W teamed up with Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and Bechtel to pursue the award. Their team, mPower America currently has almost 400 employees working on the development and licensing of the mPower design, which is envisaged as a four-unit plant at TVA’s Clinch River Site in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

DoE commented: “As this nascent industry continues to grow, the Energy Department is committed to supporting research and development that will advance efficient, safe and cost-effective small modular reactor technologies. The Department plans to issue a new funding opportunity announcement to address this goal and support continued design development and certification of innovative SMR technologies,” it said.

Westinghouse has already announced that it would apply for this second stage of funding.