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Overview


the US is playing catch-up because of the Chernobyl and the 1979 Tree Mile Island accidents. According to Tokuhiro, the US canceled more than 50 commercial reactor orders in the wake of those events. Tere were no new construction starts until 2011. Recovery is not easy. Lead time is a factor. “NPPs take typically 50–60 months to build,” he said. Given the severe risks, the US Nuclear Regulatory Com-


mission (NRC) takes great care in certifying new plant designs, a process similar to that followed by European and other regulators. Te goal in the US is standardization of NPPs. “Each one [in operation] today is unique to a certain degree,” explained Tokuhiro. Currently there are four certified reactor designs that can


provided 12.3% of the world’s electricity in 2012. France gets almost 75% of its electricity from NPPs. Te US, with some 105 plants, gets almost 19% of its electricity from NPPs. More are on the way, with 72 NPPs under construction


worldwide. Te Fukushima catastrophe put a halt to a rising trend of construction starts—there had been more than 15 in 2010 but only four in 2011, according to data from the IAEA. 2011 also saw 13 NPPs permanently shut—the most since before 2005. However, new starts have started to trend up again. Tere were 10 new powerplant starts in 2013. Te world seems to be driſting back into accepting nuclear-gen- erated electricity. In part, that is driven by the fact that the facilities that


exist are getting old. “Most nuclear power plants in the US were built in the 1960s and 1970s,” explained Prof. Akira Tokuhiro of the University of Idaho, an expert on nuclear power. “We are building new reactors in the US for the first time in 30 years,” he said, referring to five plants under con- struction: two in Jenksville, SC, (Summer-2 and -3); two in Waynesboro, VA, (Vogtle-3 and -4); and one in Spring City, TN, (Watts Bar-2). Tat number is dwarfed by the 28 under construction in China, which is followed by Russia where 10 NPPs are being built.


be referenced in an application for a combined license (COL) to build and operate an NPP, according to the NRC. Tey are: • Te Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) design by GE Nuclear Energy, certified in May 1997;


• Te System 80+ design by Westinghouse (formerly ABB-Combustion Engineering) certified in May 1997;


• Te AP600, an advanced pressurized water reactor (PWR) design by Westinghouse certified in December 1999; and


• Te AP1000 design by Westinghouse certified in January 2006, also a PWR.


Generation III+ Advantages and Future Te AP1000 is the first Generation III+ reactor certified


by the NRC. Westinghouse also reports that the European Utility Requirements organization certified the AP1000 design as complying with its requirements. Regulators in the United Kingdom, who are separate from the European regulators, have granted interim approval to the AP1000 design as well. “Te advantage of Generation III+ plants is that they are


passive designs offering improved economics, less operator actions and simpler designs,” Tokuhiro said. Te AP1000 NPP from Westinghouse is a pressurized water reactor (PWR), whose base design delivers 1154 MWe, according to the


“The future of nuclear energy cannot ignore the past while we move into the future.”


Future Technology—Safe and Economical Te new generation of reactors, called Generation III+,


concentrates on safety and reliability. Te key feature is pas- sive safety systems. At the same time, the risks inherent with earlier designs, especially Generation II facilities that comprise the vast majority of the existing US fleet, will be with us for a bit longer. Many Generation II plants will remain online possibly until 2035–2055 before they are retired, according to Tokuhiro. “Te future of nuclear energy cannot ignore the past while we move into the future,” he said. He also said that


18 Energy Manufacturing 2014


company. It features fewer valves, piping, control cables, and pumps. Even the seismic containment building is smaller. Ac- cording to the company, in the event of a coolant pipe break or other accident, the AP1000 is designed to shut down without any operator action and without the need for AC power or pumps to maintain shutdown. It relies on gravity, natural cir- culation, and compressed gases to keep the core and contain- ment building from overheating. Te first of four AP1000 units is nearing construction completion in China. Four of the five new US reactors under


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