Dominion has selected Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' (MHI's) Advanced Pressurized Water Reactor (APWR) for the potential third unit at its North Anna nuclear power plant in Virginia. The company had previously been considering building a GE Hitachi Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) there.
APWR design (Image: Mitsubishi)
MHI has developed a 1700 MWe US-specific version of its 1538 MWe APWR, two of which it is contracted to build for Japan Atomic Power Co at Tsuruga. A variety of modifications were added to meet the demands of US utility customers for enhanced performance, including the world's highest level of thermal efficiency, a 20% reduction in plant building volume, a 24-month fuel cycle, and greater economy through increased power generation capacity. The design is currently undergoing the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC's) certification process.
Dominion said that it has yet to decide whether or not to construct the proposed unit 3 at North Anna, but expects to make a decision later in 2010. If the company decides to build the new unit, it must first receive a combined construction and operating licence (COL) from the NRC and approval from the Virginia State Corporation Commission.
The North Anna site, which is already home to two operating nuclear units, received an Early Site Permit (ESP) from the NRC in November 2007, declaring the site suitable for a new nuclear plant on safety, environmental and related grounds.
Dominion's North Anna COL application, submitted in November 2007, referenced GE-Hitachi's Economic Simplified BWR (ESBWR). However, in March 2009, having failed to agree on terms for an engineering construction and procurement deal with GE-Hitachi to actually build the reactor, Dominion issued a new request for proposals from reactor vendors. Mitsubishi Nuclear Energy Systems Inc (MNES), MHI's wholly-owned US subsidiary, proposed the US-APWR design on behalf of MHI.
Thomas Farrell, head of Dominion, said: "Dominion Virginia Power is the first utility in the United States to conduct a competitive bidding process for new reactor technology in the past decade. We are pleased with the results of this process. Based on our final analysis of the proposals received in the competitive process, Mitsubishi provided the most attractive value for our customers."
He added, "Mitsubishi reactor designs have been thoroughly tested. They are safe and proven, and the PWR technology is very familiar to Dominion. This reactor meets all analysed and permitted environmental requirements for the North Anna site, and will produce a substantial amount of electricity with virtually no greenhouse gas emissions."
Kiyoshi Yamauchi, president and CEO of MNES, commented: "We believe the selection of the APWR by Dominion Virginia Power reflects the APWR's excellent economy, proven safety and long-term reliability in meeting increasing demand for electricity forecasted for Virginia, and adding to the company's portfolio of electrical generating facilities to meet this new load growth."
To date, MHI has constructed 24 PWRs in Japan and has exported numerous components for nuclear power plants to US utilities, including reactor vessel heads, control rod drive mechanisms and steam generators. MHI first entered the US nuclear market in 2002 through an order from Dominion for a replacement reactor vessel closure head and control drive mechanism at its Surry and North Anna plants, respectively. MNES was established by MHI in July 2006 to introduce the APWR to the US market. US power generator Luminant has chosen the APWR as the basis for plans to build two new reactors at the Comanche Peak site in Texas.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News