A contract to complete detailed design engineering for an Areva EPR has been awarded by Unistar Nuclear Energy (UNE) to a consortium comprising Areva and Bechtel Power.
|EPR in grey and blue (Image: Areva)
The proposed reactor, of some 1600 MWe capacity, would be constructed next to Constellation Energy's existing Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant in Lusby, Maryland. The site currently houses two 865 MWe pressurized water reactors (PWRs).
Detailed design engineering is a major milestone towards deploying a new nuclear power plant. It generates the tangible construction drawings and detailed specifications that are necessary to buy equipment and construct the plant.
This latest announcement is a demonstration of commitment from Constellation's prospective new owner, MidAmerican Energy, which is backed by Berkshire Hathaway.
MidAmerican made a quick offer for Constellation stock when it plunged in value on fears over the effect the global financial failure could have on Constellation's electricity trading business. EdF had been gradually increasing its stake in Constellation and made a higher-value counter-offer. It is rumoured to be planning another one valuing Constellation higher still.
Constellation says it remains committed to the MidAmerican deal, while Maryland's Public Service Commission has been asked to approve the deal as being in the interests of state residents.
The Areva-Bechtel Power consortium was awarded a contract by
UNE in February to begin initial detailed design engineering of the US-specific EPR design, sometimes known as the USEPR. The scope of the latest contract, to complete detailed design engineering, includes full plant specifications and design of plant facilities and buildings.
In a statement, Areva said that the detailed design engineering would provide UNE with "the information needed to make important decisions about plant-equipment purchases and construction-site preparations, should a final decision be made to build a plant."
Tom Christopher, CEO of Areva's US subsidiary Areva Inc, said: "This new multi-year agreement now involves nearly 500 Areva and Bechtel engineers." He added, "With the design certification application submittal and Unistar's combined licence (COL) application on track, we are ready to complete the next step on the path of certainty toward commercial operation of the first US EPR."
UNE is a strategic joint venture between Constellation and Electricité de France (EdF) to own and operate a fleet of at least four EPR plants in the USA and Canada. Unistar is working towards building reactors in Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Missouri.
In early June, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) accepted the second half of Unistar's combined construction and operating licence (COL) application for Calvert Cliffs unit 3 for review. Unistar submitted the second half of the COL application, comprising the safety analysis and related information, in March 2008, completing the partial submission lodged in July 2007 comprising the environmental report. UniStar's COL application for an EPR at Calvert Cliffs will serve as the reference document for all future UniStar plants. The EPR is undergoing NRC design certification by the NRC.