Iberdrola, RWE and British Energy Among Those to Endorse the ESBWR
WILMINGTON, N.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) today submitted its ESBWR reactor design to government regulators in London to initiate the generic design assessment (GDA) process as the United Kingdom considers whether to build a new fleet of reactors to help meet its energy and emissions-reduction requirements.
GEH is seeking "design acceptance confirmation" from U.K. nuclear energy regulators -- the Health and Safety Executive, the Environment Agencies and the Office for Civil Nuclear Security -- which is required before utilities can seek to build new plants based on the ESBWR in the United Kingdom. The business also has begun adding staff to its U.K. nuclear project development team.
Included in its application, GEH submitted letters of endorsement from credible nuclear power operators stating they considered the ESBWR to be a serious contender for the first projects in a U.K. initiative to replace the country's existing fleet of nuclear power plants. GEH received letters of endorsement from Iberdrola of Spain (which recently acquired Scottish Power), RWE npower and British Energy. A fourth European-based utility has also endorsed the ESBWR.
Within two weeks, GEH expects to be notified by the U.K. regulators' coordinating body, the Joint Programme Office, as well as the Department of Trade and Industry, on whether the ESBWR will be included in the first group of reactor designs to be assessed. If selected, the business will begin the initial step of the GDA process, which is expected to last until the start of 2008.
The entire GDA review is expected to take three-and-a-half years. This review is similar in purpose to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) design certification review of the ESBWR, which began in 2005.
"The ESBWR is a global, standardized reactor design capable of meeting a diverse array of international regulatory requirements," said Andy White, president & CEO of GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy, the new, global nuclear alliance business GE and Hitachi launched in June 2007 to create one of the world's leading light water reactor technology companies. "We look forward to working closely with the U.K. regulators during their lengthy and thorough assessment of the ESBWR."
The United Kingdom is the first country in Europe to receive a formal application for design approval of the ESBWR, an innovative and evolutionary Generation III+ design that utilizes the most advanced, natural circulation and passive safety systems available, combined with modular design elements and other key benefits.
The business believes the ESBWR's lower capital construction costs, shorter construction schedule and reduced operating costs, coupled with GE's (NYSE: GE) and Hitachi's (NYSE: HIT)(TSE: 6501) recent reactor construction experience in Asia, will offer energy companies a clear economic advantage over other companies that select competing designs.
GEH expects to benefit from various "lessons learned" based on its experience applying for the NRC's design certification of the ESBWR as it now seeks design acceptance confirmation in the United Kingdom. For example, GEH will be able to leverage the considerable ESBWR design data it has compiled over the span of 12 years and more than three million employee hours to help address U.K. regulators' specific questions in a timely manner.
"We are extremely thankful to receive the support of Iberdrola, RWE, British Energy and our other European utility partners in our efforts to pursue generic design assessment of the ESBWR," White said. "We are submitting an advanced reactor that we believe is more secure and safer than any other existing or proposed design, one that addresses 21st century concerns about plant economics, security, safety and reliability."