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Making Use of the Reference Plant Concept for Licensing New Nuclear Units

September 2019

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The World Nuclear Association report, Making Use of the Reference Plant Concept for Licensing New Nuclear Units, by the Licensing and Permitting Task Force (jointly established in 2011 by the Association’s Cooperation in Reactor Design Evaluation and Licensing Working Group (CORDEL) and the Law Working Group) looks into the use of a reference plant for regulatory purposes in newbuild projects.

The concept of reference plant has been used for many years for licensing as well as for contractual purposes. Making use of previous safety and regulatory assessments of a reactor design to facilitate the licensing of a new plant goes in the direction encouraged by the CORDEL Roadmap. In order to facilitate the deployment of new nuclear capacity worldwide it is of utmost importance that vendors, operators and regulators establish the needed cooperation frameworks to capitalise on existing safety analysis and licensing experience. Implemented with the level of flexibility required by each specific nuclear project, the use of a reference plant can help to enable this.

This report looks into the issues that should be thoroughly investigated from the very beginning of a nuclear plant project in order to derive the maximum benefit from the concept of a reference plant. It draws on the lessons and experiences of countries with nuclear power programmes, and is primarily aimed at organizations involved in the implementation of nuclear power programmes in emerging nuclear countries, where licensing processes, strategies, and related regulations are not yet fully established.

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