International standardization of goods and services is a familiar concept. To be feasible, standardization requires that a technology be sufficiently mature to employ designs of well-established quality and safety. This is precisely the case for today’s nuclear reactor designs, which represent the culmination of more than 50 years of development.
The concept of standardized reactor designs looks towards a future in which reactors can be built in any country without the necessity of adaptation to specific national regulations. Certainly such standardization will be crucial if nuclear power is to realize its full potential as a major contributor to the clean-energy needs of tomorrow’s world. Standardized designs will also contribute to safety in nuclear construction and operations, especially as reactors are deployed in countries that are just beginning to introduce nuclear power.
Achieving reactor design standardization will require the combined efforts of industry, regulators, policymakers, governments and international institutions.
In this paper, the WNA’s CORDEL Group proposes a conceptual three-phase programme introducing a mutual acceptance and eventually internationally valid design approvals for standardized reactor designs. But such an evolution towards internationally valid design approvals would necessarily occur in a manner consistent with each country’s sovereignty over its own regulatory framework. Each country’s regulator would remain responsible for a comprehensive licensing and oversight process, with a streamlined design approval simply being one part of it. No aspect of the CORDEL proposal is meant to imply that any national regulatory process would be subordinated or limited by foreign decisions.
You can download the WNA report here