The US Department of Energy’s (DoE’s) Nuclear Power 2010 programme has awarded funds to the two consortia aiming to demonstrate the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC’s) combined construction and operating licence (COL) process.

It is hoped that the COL will streamline and simplify the licensing process, reducing lead times and risk for investors. Two industry consortia have emerged hoping to be the first to use the scheme to build a Generation III+ reactor: the Dominion project group (AECL, AECL Technologies, Bechtel and Hitachi) and the NuStart Energy group (Constellation Group, Duke Energy, EdF North America, Entergy, Exelon, Florida Power and Light, Progress Energy, Southern Company and Tennessee Valley Authority).

Dominion hopes to build AECL’s first ACR-700 and has been awarded $9 million while NuStart, hoping to build either General Electric’s ESBWR or Westinghouse’s AP1000, has been awarded $4 million.

The money comes as part of a cost-sharing agreement between industry and the DoE and will help the consortia determine the scope of the work and costs associated with the project. It has come from the Nuclear Power 2010 programme’s 2004 budget – further awards could be made from later years’ funds leading up to 2010, when the programme’s mangers hope to have at least one G-III+ reactor under construction. The crucial decisions on whether to proceed with one or both of the projects will be made next year after detailed project plans have been submitted.

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