US consortia propose new reactor licenses

Two utility-vendor consortia have announced that they will seek Department of Energy (DOE) funding for preparing combined construction & operation licence (COL) applications for new reactors to be built in the USA. One alliance is of four major utilities with Westinghouse, General Electric and EdF International - it will pursue the Westinghouse AP1000 and GE's European Simplified BWR technology options. The other consortium is of one large utility with Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd - it will pursue AECL's ACR-700 option. The first group expects its COL application to be lodged in 2008, and for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission then to take two years to review it.

The DOE called for such proposals last year, and said industry must cover at least half the cost. Three of the utility companies involved have already applied for early site permits (ESP) to build a new plant (type unspecified) at each of three named sites. The COL preparation will enable engineering work to be done and detailed cost estimates to be prepared. Each consortium is apparently prepared to spend around $50 million over 7 years, with matching funds from DOE. Neither ESP nor COL commits anyone to build anything, but they will expedite future plans for new build.

The Westinghouse AP1000 is currently undergoing design certification by NRC, with a decision expected late 2005. The other two designs are at pre-application stages of NRC certification. The three advanced reactor designs already certified by NRC have been bypassed, though the AP1000 is developed from one of them and the ESBWR from another - the ABWR - which is operating in Japan. Reactors of the third design are at pre-contract stage in South Korea.

Zdroj: Nucleonics Week

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