UniStar Nuclear Energy (UNE) has awarded a contract to an Areva-Bechtel Power consortium to begin initial detailed design engineering of the US Evolutionary Power Reactor (USEPR) design.
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.
UNE is a strategic joint venture between US utility Constellation and Electricité de France (EdF) to own and operate a fleet of USEPR plants in the USA and Canada. The 1600 MWe USEPR will form the basis of UniStar's proposed fleet of at least four advanced nuclear power plants in the USA. UniStar is working with Constellation, EdF, PPL, AmerenUE, and emerging energy companies such as Alternate Energy Holdings Inc (AEHI) and Amarillo Power to develop potential USEPRs in New York, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Idaho and Texas.
George Vanderheyden, president and CEO of UNE, said: "The fact that there are two EPRs currently under construction in Finland and France, and EdF is bringing its experience from the Flamanville project to UniStar, puts us in a unique position in the marketplace." He added, "Not only do we benefit from design information from the previous two EPRs, we can more precisely lock down costs for a USEPR and provide greater certainty to our partners and customers."
On 25 January, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) accepted for detailed review UniStar's partial combined construction and operating licence (COL) application for its reference plant. This is a proposed third reactor at Constellation's Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant in Maryland. UniStar plans to submit the remaining portions of the COL application in March.
On 11 December 2007, Areva submitted the design certification application for the USEPR to the NRC, which will now review the documentation, and, if it seems complete, accept it and begin a thorough review. Design certification would approve the design's safety, independent of any specific site or plan to build. This is a necessary step before the any USEPR plant could be built.
In November 2007, UNE selected French engineering group Alstom as the supplier of turbine generators for its planned fleet of new nuclear power reactors in the USA. The companies signed a letter of intent, under which Alstom will supply a minimum of four 'Arabelle' half-speed turbine generators for UNE's planned US fleet of reactors.
"With the design certification application submittal and UniStar's combined operating licence application on track, we are now beginning the next major step on the path toward commercial operation of the first USEPR," said Ray Ganthner, senior vice president for new plant deployment at Areva NP Inc.
Areva hired more than 200 engineers and technical experts in 2007 to support the design certification application and detailed design activities. The company said that it expects to hire even more workers during 2008 in preparation for high demand of resources necessary for new build plans in the USA.