Entergy Submits Application for Louisiana Nuclear Plant; Third NRC Application This Month with GE Hitachi ESBWR Reactor
|The GE Hitachi ESBWR Reactor. Click to enlarge.|
New Orleans-based Entergy Corp. has submitted a combined construction and operating license (COL) application to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), selecting GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s (GEH) next-generation ESBWR (Economic Simplified Boiling-Water Reactor) reactor design.
The nation’s second-largest nuclear plant operator, Entergy is seeking to reserve the option to build a potential new reactor at its River Bend Nuclear Generating Station in Louisiana, located along the Mississippi River in St. Francisville, about 30 miles north of Baton Rouge.
|Projected locations for new light water reactors (LWR) in the US. Some of the projected locations have not yet submitted their COL application. Click to enlarge. Source: NRC|
Entergy is the third energy company this month to submit an NRC license application naming GEH’s Generation III+ ESBWR design as its technology choice. In September, Detroit Edison, Michigan’s largest electric utility, submitted a license application for a potential new ESBWR reactor at its existing Fermi 2 Power Plant site. Exelon Corp. submitted an NRC license application to potentially build and operate two ESBWR reactors near Victoria, Texas.
Entergy is among four US utilities that have selected the ESBWR for a total of six potential reactor units. The River Bend license application is Entergy’s second application to the NRC in 2008 for a potential ESBWR project. Earlier this year, in conjunction with the utility consortium NuStart Energy Development, Entergy submitted a separate application for a potential ESBWR unit that would be built at its Grand Gulf Nuclear Station site in Port Gibson, Miss.
By submitting its license application before a federal deadline of 31 December, Entergy remains eligible for tax incentives and loan guarantees offered by the US Energy Policy Act of 2005. The incentives were adopted to help jumpstart the first group of new reactor orders in the United States since the 1970s.
The NRC currently has fifteen combined license applications in hand representing 24 new reactors, including this latest from Entergy.
|Combined License Applications, as of September 2008|
|Proposed new reactor(s)||Applicant||Technology|
|Bellefonte Nuclear Station Units 3 and 4||Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)||Westinghouse AP 1000|
|Callaway Plant Unit 2||AmerenUE||Areva US EPR|
|Calvert Cliffs Unit 3||UniStar Nuclear and Constellation||Areva US EPR|
|Comanche Peak Units 3 and 4||Luminant Generation Company LLC (Luminant)||Mitsubishi US-APWR|
|Fermi Unit 3||Detroit Edison Company||GEH ESBWR|
|Grand Gulf Unit 3||Entergy Operations, Inc. (EOI)||GEH ESBWR|
|Levy County Units 1 and 2||Progress Energy (PE)||Westinghouse AP 1000|
|North Anna Unit 3||Dominion Virginia Power (Dominion)||GEH ESBWR|
|River Bend Station Unit 3||Entergy Operation, Inc. (EOI)||GEH ESBWR|
|Shearon Harris Units 2 and 3||Progress Energy (PE)||Westinghouse AP 1000|
|South Texas Project Units 3 and 4||South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Company (STPNOC)||GE ABWR|
|Victoria County Station Units 1 and 2||Exelon Nuclear Texas Holdings, LLC (Exelon)||GEH ESBWR|
|Virgil C. Summer Units 2 and 3||South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G)||Westinghouse AP 1000|
|Vogtle Units 3 and 4||Southern Nuclear Operating Company (SNC)||Westinghouse AP 1000|
|William States Lee III Units 1 and 2||Duke Energy||Westinghouse AP 1000|
The issuance of a COL authorizes the licensee to construct and (with specified conditions) operate a nuclear power plant at a specific site, in accordance with established laws and regulations. A COL is valid for 40 years from the date of the Commission finding that the acceptance criteria in the combined license are met. A COL can be renewed for an additional 20 years. Receiving a COL is a precondition for actual construction, but does not indicate that the plant will necessarily be built.
GEH’s 1,520-MW ESBWR is an evolutionary Generation III+ passive-safety reactor design undergoing final certification review by the NRC. According to GE, the simplified design provides improved safety; better economics; better plant security; a broad seismic design envelope; and operational flexibility.
|Natural circulation in the ESBWR. Click to enlarge. Source: GE|
The ESBWR uses natural circulation rather than the forced circulation of previous Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) and all Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) designs. Because hot water is less dense, it rises through the core while the cool water flows down to the bottom of the core. These differences in density create natural circulation.
Use of natural circulation enables the simplification of the design, with the removal the of recirculation pumps and associated motors, piping, valves, heat exchangers, controls, and electrical support systems that exist with forced circulation. Natural circulation in the ESBWR also eliminates the risk of flow disturbances resulting from recirculation pump anomalies.
Among the benefits and features of the ESBWR design are:
Residual heat transferred to the atmosphere;
11 systems eliminated from previous designs;
25% of pumps, valves, and motors eliminated from previous nuclear island designs;
Passive design features, such as passive containment cooling, reduce the number of active systems, increasing safety; and
Incorporation of features used in operationally proven BWRs, including isolation condensers, natural circulation and debris-resistant fuel
Much of the site-specific engineering design work for future ESBWR projects will be performed at GEH’s Advanced Technology Center in Wilmington, NC, where the GE Hitachi nuclear alliance is headquartered.
Entergy’s River Bend plant currently is powered by an earlier-generation, 980-MW boiling water reactor (BWR) unit designed by GE, which joined with Hitachi to create the GE Hitachi nuclear alliance in 2007.