|Concept drawing: AP1000|
Applications for combined construction and operating licenses are pending before the NRC. Both utilities have expressed the hope the regulatory agency will issue them in the first quarter of 2012.
The NRC's approval is a global "gold standard" and may open markets for the reactor in other countries. Westinghouse is building four AP1000s in China and is in negotiations to build more of them there. The firm has executed technology transfer agreements with China which is planning to shift from its older GEN II domestic designs to GEN III through adaptation of the AP1000's passive safety features.
Earlier this month the U.K. Nuclear Safety Agency issued an interim approval of the reactor under its generic design assessment. Westinghouse has said it will complete the expensive process when a customer places an order for a unit in the U.K. Multiple sites have been approved by the government for construction of new reactors and several of of them led by French, German, and Spanish utilities are likely to select the AP1000.
Turn around for Jackzo
|NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko|
He issued an unprecedented statement to the news media criticizing Westinghouse alleging it was dragging its feet in responding to agency questions.
In October he said that he was "sympathetic" to the views of a coalition of anti-nuclear groups who want the agency to stop all reactor licensing including renewals until it has completely updated its regulations with Fukushima related safety measures. That process will take years.
Aris Candris, Westinghouse CEO, told the Associated Press that the long road to today's decision has sometimes been "arduous."
However, he also told the wire service that it opens the door to building reactors in the U.S., the first new starts in three decades, and these projects will produce thousands of jobs.
Jaczko wrote in his vote in favor of certification . . .
“The design provides enhanced safety margins through use of simplified, inherent, passive, or other innovative safety and security functions, and also has been assessed to ensure it could withstand damage from an aircraft impact without significant release of radioactive materials.”
The AP1000 is a 1,100 megawatt electric pressurized-water reactor that includes passive safety features that would cool down the reactor after an accident without the need for human intervention.
The NRC certification means that when an applicant references the AP1000 in a license application there is no need to submit safety information on it. NRC's review of the license focuses on safety issues specific to the plant.
Build out in the U.S.
The four AP1000s under construction in China will be finished and in revenue service in another two-to-three years.
The reactors planned by Southern and Scana are expected to begin generating electricity starting in 2016-2018.
Following them are proposals by Duke for two AP1000s in South Carolina and two more by Progress on Florida's west coast and yet two more by FPL near Miami.
On the Web
- US NRC - Design certification for AP1000
- Westinghouse - Multimedia page on AP1000