Future plants may be of a number of designs since there is no general agreement on what features should be included in future designs. Further, there is no universal agreement on the design basis and how improvements in safety can be quantified. Further there are worldwide differences in licensing positions and engineering design standards across the world.

There has been progress in Germany and France towards developing harmonised approaches to design and licensing, e. g. within the EPR initiative.

In the US, the design of the AP600 has been certified by the USNRC as meeting accepted standards. This provides a demonstration to a potential regulator that the design has been certified against a particular standard. Generic design requirements can be derived from IAEA standards. These provide a norm for vendors to demonstrate how their particular designs meet these requirements.

Future designs will also have to satisfy URs and the evidence to date is that there are different vendors proposing a wide range of designs in the market. Different regulating bodies may be sympathetic to different designs and indeed different safety solutions for the same design. A harmonisation of design requirements and safety solutions (if they can be agreed by regulators) would clearly be desirable for vendors who could then seek design certification that would be acceptable in a number of different countries. For the same reasons, it would be an advantage for utilities.

Since there are likely to be operator applications for quite different designs in the future, there would clearly be a benefit in a more ‘technical neutral’ approach to licensing if it could be acceptable to the regulator, i. e. the licensing process would become less design specific than it is today.

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