ABWR vendors set up shop

18 April 2008

An earlier version of this story stated that GE and Toshiba had jointly developed the ABWR design. In fact, Hitachi was also involved. The correct roles of the three firms are now included below.


GE-Hitachi has set up a project office to market Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWRs) in the USA. The move comes just weeks after Toshiba established an American company to do the same thing.


GE-Hitachi's Global Unified Project Office is to be part of the San Jose facility in California and is meant to market the ABWR and the Economic Simplified BWR (ESBWR) to US utilities. It will also "develop the project deployment model for our US and global market customers," said Masaharu Hanyu, president and CEO of Hitachi-GE, the Japan-focused half of the partnership.


The ABWR design is already in use at Tokyo Electric Power Company's Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear power plant, where two units started up in 1996 and 1997. Another is at Chubu Electric Power Company's Hamaoka site and two more are under construction at Lungmen on Taiwan and two more planned for the South Texas Project site.


The ABWR design was developed jointly by GE, Toshiba and Hitachi, following on from GE's development of the BWR concept in the 1950s. The three firms also partnered for build at Kashiwazaki Kariwa and Lungmen and now both GE-Hitachi (which merged their nuclear businesses last year) and Toshiba assert the right to build ABWRs. However, GE-Hitachi owns the very specific design certified for use in the USA by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.


The combined construction and operating license for the South Texas ABWRs references the certified GE-Hitachi design, even though Toshiba has been selected as the main contractor to build the units. Toshiba's ABWR marketing company, Nuclear Innovation North America, is to make certain changes to the application and revise it later this year.