USA's Project Phoenix to support Slovenia SMR study

08 February 2024

The US State Department's Project Phoenix aims to help countries transition from coal to small modular reactors (SMRs). Slovenia had applied to take part, and has now been selected to receive advisory and technical services as part of the programme.

(Photo: Ukraine's Embassy in the USA)

Project Phoenix was announced by US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry (pictured above) at the COP27 climate conference in 2022 and aims to support energy security and climate goals by creating pathways for coal-to-SMR power plant conversions while retaining local jobs through workforce retraining. The first recipients, announced in September last year, were the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia.

In a letter announcing the award to Slovenia, State Department assistant secretary C S Eliot Kang, said there had been many "excellent applications" and Slovenia's selection "is testament to the high quality of the proposal". Sargent & Lundy are the implementing partner for the programme, and they will be working with Slovenian stakeholders to identify priority project areas.

He added: "Based on discussions between your government and Sargent & Lundy it is understood that you desire to use the services provided under Project Phoenix to facilitate your government's completion of a pre-feasibility study for potential future SMR deployment ... the result of this assessment will be a comparison of vendor technology capabilities to the goals and priorities" agreed. It could also include compiling information to aid assessment of costs and economic benefits of SMR facility construction and operations in the country.

Tina Seršen, Slovenia's Minister of Environment, Climate and Energy, said: "Participation in the Phoenix project gives Slovenia the opportunity to fulfill the commitments of the National Energy and Climate Plan, which, among other things, foresees that we will study the possibilities of introducing new nuclear technologies. The new nuclear technologies mainly include the technologies of small and advanced modular reactors which are the subject of the consulting and technical assistance of the Phoenix project. Recently, this technology has been intensively developed all over the world, and we are definitely interested in the possibilities of its use in Slovenia as well."

The application was prepared with the Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Energy as coordinator. It said that the aim was to complete the project within a year.

Slovenia already has plans to build a new nuclear power plant - the JEK2 project - with up to 2400 MW capacity next to its existing nuclear power plant, Krško, a 696 MWe pressurised water reactor which generates about one-third of the country's electricity and which is co-owned by neighbouring Croatia. A referendum has been pledged to take place, probably later this year, to ensure public backing for that plan, and more new nuclear in general.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News