Areva has underlined its commitment to the completion of its first European Pressurised Water Reactor (EPR) plant in the USA by 2015 by submitting a design certification application to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Approval of the application would allow Areva to deploy its third-generation EPR technology in the USA through UniStar Nuclear, its joint venture with Constellation Energy. UniStar recently submitted an application in Maryland for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) for the potential construction of a new nuclear unit at Constellation Energy’s Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant.

Areva is confident of success with the application due to its experience in licensing in the US as well as in licensing the EPR technology in Europe. The EPR is currently the only third-generation nuclear reactor under construction anywhere in the world.

“By building on our considerable licensing experience in the US as well as that gained through the detailed licensing processes in Finland and France, we have prepared what we believe is the most thorough design certification application the NRC has received to date,” said Tom Christopher, president and CEO of Areva NP Inc.

The world’s first two EPR reactors are currently being built in Finland and France. Areva has also begun the pre-licensing phase in the UK and will also seek a license in China, where it recently signed a contract for two EPRs.

Through its UniStar joint venture, Areva is aiming to deploy a global fleet of EPR reactors. UniStar recently signed a letter of intent with Alstom for the supply of turbine generators for its planned reactors in the USA, a move which gives the company guarantees in the global supply chain.

In addition to the Calvert Cliffs site, UniStar is also considering Constellation Energy’s Nine Mile Point nuclear facility in upstate New York as the location of the first of four advanced design reactors planned for the US market.

The EPR design application is comprised of some 12,000 pages of documentation prepared by a project team of 325 engineers and 55 support staff, says Areva. Submittal of a design certification application is the first step in obtaining approval from the US NRC necessary for a nuclear plant design to be built.

The EPR is an evolutionary 1600 MW net pressurized water reactor design based on proven technology and is the world’s most advanced reactor design currently under construction. The EPR incorporates significant improvements in safety and economics over previous technologies, operating at a lower cost over the expected life of the plant and providing what its makers call unparalleled safety margins.