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Nuclear Power Collaboration Extends From Tennessee To Poland

Photo Courtesy TVA

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is headquartered about 770 miles away from Oshawa, Ontario, and nearly 4,900 miles from Warsaw, Poland. Despite those vast distances, the Knoxville-based power utility is partnering with companies from both cities in an effort to learn more about nuclear energy and advance its technology and use.

As the Nashville Business Journal reported in February, a collaboration between TVA, Oshawa-based Ontario Power Generation (OPG), and Warsaw-based Synthos Green Energy aims to share knowledge, technology, and best practices as a way of developing more nuclear sites as power sources.

This development comes after Governor Bill Lee announced important appointments to the new Tennessee Nuclear Energy Advisory Council, which included a Tennessee Valley Authority Representative. “Tennessee can lead America’s energy independence and deliver continued economic growth with safe, reliable and clean nuclear energy for the future,” said Gov. Lee. “I am confident that these appointees will use their unique industry expertise to ensure that Tennessee is the top state for nuclear energy companies to invest and succeed, creating quality jobs and greater opportunity for Tennesseans.”

Photo Courtesy OPG

The companies are focused on small modular reactors, which the U.S. Department of Energy says offer advantages like a smaller footprint than traditional reactors, making them less expensive to build and easier to operate.

Another benefit is that the smaller modular reactors can be prefabricated, shipped, and installed on sites that are impossible for larger facilities. 

Why the focus on nuclear energy? Much of it has to do with environmental and economic considerations.

On its website, TVA calls nuclear power the “best option for generating large amounts of electricity that is safe, clean, reliable, and cost-effective.” From an environmental standpoint, nuclear power is considered a much cleaner option than gas or coal because it doesn’t produce greenhouse gas emissions.

Photo Courtesy OPG

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are safety concerns with nuclear energy due to the risk of accidents or other events that could release dangerous levels of radiation into surrounding areas. Reducing those risks through better technology and practices is one reason the TVA has joined forces with Ontario Power Generation and Synthos. 

The three companies bring complementary strengths to the partnership. TVA is the largest public power supplier in the United States and delivers energy to 10 million people across seven southeastern states. It currently operates three nuclear plants capable of generating an average of 8,275 megawatts of electricity each day. The plants are located in the following areas:

OPG is one of North America’s largest and most diverse electricity generators, while Synthos develops and implements zero-emission technologies and electricity production from renewable sources.

Video Courtesy Tennessee Valley Authority

The first collaboration between TVA, OPG, and Synthos took place in March 2023, when those companies joined with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) to push the worldwide deployment of the GEH BWRX-300 small modular reactor. 

According to a press release, the four companies formed a technical collaboration agreement to invest in developing the BWRX-300 standard design and detailed design for key components, including reactor pressure vessels and internals.

Photo Courtesy Hitachi

Each contributor agreed “to fund a portion of GEH’s overall cost and collectively will form a Design Center Working Group with the purpose of ensuring the standard design is deployable in multiple jurisdictions.” The long-term goal is for the BWRX-300 design to be licensed and deployed in Canada, the U.S., Poland, and elsewhere.

The more recent partnership between TVA, OPG, and Synthos is built around sharing information and expertise, according to Jeff Lyash, TVA’s president and CEO.

“Working together, we are taking intentional steps to advance new nuclear in the U.S. and around the world,” Lyash said in a statement. “TVA is leading the way for the nation by investing and helping to shape the standard design of the GEH BWRX-300, which will add more reliable, resilient, affordable, and clean energy on the grid.”  


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