WASHINGTON, May 23 (UPI) -- U.S. and Chinese nuclear energy regulators will share information on a new nuclear reactor that has not yet been built in the United States.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and China's National Nuclear Safety Administration signed a memorandum of cooperation as the Westinghouse Advanced Pressurized Reactor -- or AP1000 -- moves from concept to electricity generator.
China plans to use the reactor as it ramps up nuclear energy capacity to meet growing demand for electricity. The NRC has certified the AP1000 reactor, though a plant using the model has not been licensed before. NRC's work on the AP1000 has been in the design phase, NRC spokesman Scott Burnell said.
"As China moves forward on these projects the information they generate we will certainly look at to see what parts of that will be useful to our inspectors" if the reactors are licensed and built in the United States, Burnell said.
While no new plant has been licensed since 1978, rising demand for energy, high monetary and pollution costs of oil and federal incentives for new nuclear may spur the industry on in the United States. The NRC expects applications for 19 new plants over the next three years, and 12 of the 28 reactors in those plants will be AP1000.
Ben Lando, UPI Energy Correspondent