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Posts Tagged ‘ESBWR’


Friday, March 11th, 2011

March 11, 2011
Nuclear Townhall

Things are starting to move at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. On top of renewing Vermont Yankee’s license, the NRC has awarded design approval to GE Hitachi’s ESBWR, giving a boost to the consortium’s international efforts.

“The FSER [final safety evaluation report] and FDA [final design approval] mark a crucial step forward for the ESBWR’s global commercial prospects,” said Caroline Reda, president and CEO of GEH. “We appreciate the diligence of the NRC during the review process, which enables the ESBWR to remain on track to receive the NRC’s final design certification by this fall.”

Although Michigan’s DTE has chosen the Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) for its proposed Fermi Unit 3 near Detroit, the first construction will probably be abroad. India is experiencing a nuclear renaissance and has designed a site for multiple ESBWRs. The GE Hitachi consortium is also making inroads in Poland. Last month it signed a memorandum of understanding with POLATOM, the research institute that advises the Polish government on nuclear issues.

Thirty years ago, GE and Westinghouse dominated the reactor industry. GE’s boiling water reactor constituting one-third of America’s 100 reactor fleet while Westinghouse’s pressurized water reactor most of the other two-thirds. GE has not built a BWR since the ill-fated Shoreham plant, which never opened. Former GE CEO Jack Welsh was openly contemptuous of nuclear and current CEO Jeff Immelt notes that “no GE CEO has ever made money in nuclear.”  Westinghouse’s fortunes revived after it was bought by Toshiba in 2006, however, and GE followed by partnering with Hitachi in 2007.

The ESBWR is a “Gen III” reactor, designed to reduce costs and achieve greater safety by simplifying the design and using natural convection in cooling. The approval puts GE Hitachi one step ahead of Westinghouse, which is still awaiting approval of its Gen III design, the AP1000

Read more about it at Business Wire



Monday, October 11th, 2010

Prithiviraj Chavan, India’s Minister of State for Science and Technology, told a national conference that the country is more than ever committed to developing the fast breeder reactor, a technology that burns nearly 100 percent of the fuel and can be used to consumer so-called “nuclear waste.”
“As we look forward to expand our nuclear energy program with imported fuel and large imported reactors, let me assure you that there will be no compromise with or commitment to our three-stage nuclear program,” Chavan told an audience at the Indira Gandhi Center for Atomic Research, which was celebrating the 25th anniversary of India’s Fast Breeder Test Reactor. The “three-stage program” refers to the closing of the nuclear fuel cycle that comes with the fast breeder.
Fast breeders are yet another technology where America once led the world but where other countries have now picked up the ball. The United States closed its last experimental fast breeder, EBR-II, in Idaho, in 1993 as part of an effort by the Clinton Administration to phase out nuclear research. The effort is chronicled in great detail in Tom Blees’ Prescription for the Planet.,

Chavan said India’s commitment to energy independence and avoidance of the problem of “nuclear waste” makes the fast breeder essential. “‘Irradiated fuel should not be disposed as radioactive waste,” he told his audience. “[C]losing the fuel cycle through fuel reprocessing is absolutely essential for ensuring the sustainability of nuclear energy.”
Baldev Raj, director of the Indira Gandhi Center, said that India now has now 10,000 scientists and engineers working on fast breeder technology.
Chavan noted that in addition to advancing the fast breeder, India is equally committed to developing thorium reactors, which would take advantage of India’s sizable thorium reserves. Nearly all the world’s reactors now run on uranium, which only half as abundant as thorium.


Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

"Construction Track Records For New Nuclear Plants Around The World So Far Are Mixed" is the title of a report just issued for investors by Standard & Poor. But the real “mix” is between the U.S. versus the rest of the world. “Foremost is the absence of any meaningful nuclear building experience in the U.S. over the past several decades,” says the report.

“[This] contrasts with a current global push in nuclear development that is in full swing – about 60 plants are under construction around the world.” The explanation of this discrepancy comes in a companion report issued simultaneously and titled "Why Is It So Much More Expensive To Build A Nuclear Power Plant In The U.S. Than Abroad?” 

In addition to a worldwide nuclear construction boom having driven up the costs of material such as steel and concrete,  Aneesh Prabhu, an S&P credit analyst, attributed some of the U.S. costs to the first-of-a-kind technology evolutions  -– Toshiba’s ABWR, AREVA’s EPR, the Westinghouse’s AP-1000, Mitsubishi’s APWR and GE’s ESBWR. “The construction track record of these technologies is not very long,” he said.