Little more than a year after its design for the Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) gained federal approval, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy announced plans Monday to “explore advancing” the detailed design of the ESBWR with Michigan-based DTE Energy.
DTE Energy, whose website states its subsidiaries DTE Gas and DTE Electric supply energy to a combined 3 million customers, received the first-ever ESBWR-based combined construction and operating license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission this past May, according to the news release from Wilmington-based GEH.
“DTE has not made a commitment to build, but is keeping the option open, given the long-term environmental and economic advantages of nuclear power,” the release continued.
The exploration process will include determining resource requirements and developing plans to advance the ESBWR design, “enabling DTE Energy to be in a position to more readily begin work should the utility decide at a later date to add more carbon-free, base load power to its energy mix,” GEH COO Jay Wileman said in the news release.
When GEH got the green light from the NRC
last September to pursue commercial development of the ESBWR, it identified two possible early partners for the endeavor. One is DTE, and the other is Dominion Virginia Power, for a proposed third reactor at Dominion’s North Anna Power Station near Richmond. A federal license for that project is expected in 2016, according to GEH spokesman Jonathan Allen.
According to GEH, the ESBWR is the “world’s safest approved nuclear reactor design based on core damage frequency.” The factors contributing to the reactor’s safety, the company states, are the reactor’s ability to cool itself for more than seven days with no on-site or off-site AC power or operator action; its use of approximately 25 percent fewer pumps and mechanical drives than needed by reactors with active safety systems; and its lowest projected operating, maintenance and staffing costs in the nuclear industry on a per-kilowatt basis.