Duke Power has announced that it is preparing a combined construction and operating license (COL) application for two Westinghouse Advanced Passive 1000 (AP1000) reactors at a site to be named following the conclusion of its current site selection study. The COL application, which is expected to be submitted to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission within the next 24-30 months, is part of the company's long-term generation planning process, and will allow Duke Power to keep new nuclear generation as an option for meeting its customer's future energy needs.
The AP1000 design is based on the same Westinghouse pressurized water reactor (PWR) technology that has been used in in numerous power plants around the world. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has set up a process by which reactor designs can be certified prior to any actual construction plans. The certification process seeks to reduce site development time by resolving design issues prior to construction. The AP1000's status in this process is "finalizing certification" which should fit in well with Duke's construction plans. Design certification may occur simultaneously with site licensing or construction licensing.
Westinghouse is partnering with The Shaw Group Inc., for engineering work for this project. Shaw Group is not one of the partners in the two consortiums that have been formed to build the four nuclear plants to be built under the Department of Energy's Nuclear Power 2010 program to kickstart new nuclear energy construction. But, Westinghouse and Duke Energy are part of the NuStart Energy consortium.
In an earlier press release discussing their plans for future power plants Duke said that they were considering whether to pursue the option to build a new nuclear power plant and is seeking bids from the wholesale power market for up to 1,500 megawatts beginning in 2009. Our customers’ demand for energy is growing ... the option to license a new nuclear plant, builds on Duke Power’s tradition of operating a highly efficient and diverse fleet of power plants. Planning for new power plants must begin well in advance of increased power demand. ... It takes approximately four years to permit and construct an intermediate load natural gas and oil-fueled, combined-cycle plant. Base load coal and nuclear plants take about six and nine years to permit and construct respectively.
Preliminary site selection for the Nuclear Power 2010 plants has been made, so is it safe to assume that this plant is planned to be built independent of this program? In any event it is further confirmation that the nuclear industry is coming back. My posture has been that we have to build at least a few nuclear plants to keep our industry and technology viable. Nuclear plants inherently reduce greenhouse gas emissions and have a good safety record. Their waste disposal problems make a lot of headlines, but there are tractable solutions that could be implemented. Coal also has to play a part in our future energy needs, but they have not demonstrated CO2 capture and sequestration systems, even though this should not be especially difficult. This is also a problem that could be solved by implementing a government regulation, but they are waiting for the technology to be demonstrated. The regulatory process seems to favor nuclear plants and a number of environmentalists are backing or leaning toward backing nuclear plants. With control of greenhouse gases receiving more and more attention, continued increases in energy demands and aging of our current coal plants I see no answer but moving ahead on both technologies as well as keeping up strong efforts on conservation and renewable energy as a necessity. I thought the information on lead time for various types of power plants was very informative.
The announcement came to The Energy Blog via NEI Nuclear Notes
Duke Power Preparing Combined Construction and Operating License; Selects Westinghouse AP1000 Reactor Design, Press release Oct. 26, 2005
Duke Power lays groundwork for upgraded power portfolio to meet growing customer demand, Press release, May 11, 2005
Duke Power Company, Charlotte, NC