Benefits Gained through International Harmonization of Nuclear Safety Standards for Reactor Designs

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Increasing worldwide recognition of nuclear power as a major future energy source - providing benefits for national energy independence as well as global environmental preservation - is reflected in recent declarations by the G8 and the OECD’s International Energy Agency, in the policies of many governments, and in creation of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership.

For potential investors, however, global expansion of nuclear power continues to be viewed primarily through a financial and economic prism that focuses particularly on nuclear power’s competitiveness visà-vis other sources of base-load power such as coal and gas.

A major factor in this equation is the potential for economies of scale achieved by building plants in series.

Currently, national variations in safety regulations present an obstacle to internationally standardized nuclear reactor designs, which would foster these economies.

The achievement of harmonization of nuclear safety standards could overcome this obstacle, facilitating the emergence of a global market that offers a choice of a small number of reactor types that are recognized by regulators as safe and technologically mature. This important step could kick-start serial reactor construction worldwide.