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GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy prepares Finland ESBWR bid

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) signed a new project development memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Finnish software and systems engineering firm Space Systems Finland Ltd (SSF), which specialises in the validation and verification of safety critical software for various industrial sectors, including the aerospace and utility industries.

Under the agreement, the companies will explore potential opportunities to collaborate on future nuclear power plant projects globally as well as in Finland as the utility Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) is looking to build a fourth reactor at its Olkiluoto nuclear power station.

The signing of the MOU coincided with a meeting between John Krenicki, vice chairman of GE (NYSE:GE) and president/CEO of GE Energy, and Finnish energy industry leaders at the US embassy in Helsinki to discuss how GE can support Finland’s efforts to expand the production of lower-carbon, alternative energy supplies, including the construction of new nuclear power plants.

“The ESBWR is an excellent example of how GE is providing its customers around the world with the most diverse portfolio of technology and services to help meet their unique energy and environmental priorities,” said Krenicki, who also presented the embassy with a scale model of the ESBWR that will be on display there. As part of the League of Green Embassies, the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki is a world leader in promoting energy efficiency and the embassy itself is being renovated to incorporate the latest green technologies.

TVO is evaluating several different reactor technologies for its “Olkiluoto-4” project, including GEH’s Generation III+ Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR design. GEH’s ESBWR uses natural circulation and passive safety technology, and is the world’s safest available reactor design as measured by industry standards. In 2011, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued its final design approval for the ESBWR, clearing the reactor design to be built by utilities around the world.

As part of the new MOU, SSF will support GEH in making sure that the ESBWR’s advanced digital instrumentation and controls (I&C) systems can be licensed in Finland. SSF will review the design, and identify and recommend any system architectural modifications necessary, if any, for the ESBWR design to comply with Finland’s special regulatory requirements.

“Space Systems Finland is excited to work with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy by using our extensive expertise in safety-critical systems to help ensure the ESBWR meets Finland’s nuclear industry requirements and standards,” said SSF Managing Director Veera Sylvius.

Finland has four nuclear reactors that supplied more than 28% of the country’s electricity in 2010, according to the World Nuclear Association. In July 2010, Finland’s parliament ratified “Decisions in Principle” for the construction of two additional reactors, including TVO’s “Olkiluoto-4” project.

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