Last week the NRC announced that it had approved the Construction and Operating License (COL) for DTE Energy’s prospective Fermi Unit 3, to be built on the site of the existing Fermi-2 near Detroit, Michigan. The COL will also notably be the first for the GE Hitachi ESBWR, or “Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor,” a Gen-III+ nuclear plant with passive safety.
The ESBWR is the world’s safest approved nuclear reactor design, based on core damage frequency. The reactor can cool itself for more than seven days with no on-site or off-site AC power or operator action, uses approximately 25 percent fewer pumps and mechanical drives than reactors with active safety systems and offers the lowest projected operating, maintenance and staffing costs in the nuclear industry on a per-kilowatt basis.
DTE Energy operates Fermi 2 and applied for the Fermi 3 license in September 2008. The utility says it has no immediate plans to build Fermi 3, and sought the approval as a long-term planning option.
“With this license, DTE Energy now possesses the most diverse, comprehensive slate of options to plan for Michigan’s energy future,” said Steven Kurmas, DTE Energy’s president and chief operating officer. “The potential of additional nuclear energy gives us the option of reliable, base-load, generation that does not emit greenhouse gases.”