Commercial nuclear power plants are being upgraded globally for higher power output and extended operations to meet the need for reliable, inexpensive power, as we await the arrival of the next generation of nuclear reactors.
Commercial nuclear power plants currently provide 2.6 trillion kilowatt hours of electricity — almost 14% of the world’s total electricity. Across the globe, there are 435 nuclear reactors operating in 30 countries, the largest percentage of which is in the U.S. Utilities are upgrading these plants to support higher power output and extending operating licenses beyond their original design for 40 years of operation to help meet the need for reliable, inexpensive power with no greenhouse gas emissions. Improving capacity while not compromising safety for a fleet of operating reactors, where half of the plants are over 30 years old, is a key challenge facing electric utilities today. Plant life extensions, power uprates and other performance initiatives are all effective means of creating increased generation capacity.
Curtiss-Wright has supported the commercial nuclear power industry since the first U.S. nuclear plant went online in Shippingport, PA in 1957, and continues to help make plants safer, more efficient and more reliable across the globe. With more than 50 years of experience in power generation, and by leveraging our technical expertise with the U.S. nuclear Navy, we have significantly broadened our product offering in the commercial nuclear power market over time, both through acquisition and organic growth. Today, we have an installed base of products at all 104 nuclear plants operating in the U.S. and on many operating internationally.
Nuclear plant operators require support of their installed base equipment, particularly in the areas of obsolete parts, spent fuel storage and technologies to enhance generating efficiency. At the same time, it is critical to minimize the amount of time a nuclear plant is off line and to ensure that all activities are conducted with the utmost regard for unwavering personnel safety with minimal radiation exposure, as well as enhanced attention to reactor safety. Curtiss-Wright supports each of these vital goals.
We are one of the few companies that hold N-stamp quality assurance certifications -- indicating nuclear-grade status as designated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission or NRC -- that are necessary for supplying nuclear plant equipment. While many companies abandoned the commercial nuclear industry and their N-stamps over the years, Curtiss-Wright has continued to expand these certifications and our business.
Additionally, the construction of new nuclear plants offers substantial opportunities for Curtiss-Wright to supply its most sophisticated products and services.
We designed the world’s most advanced reactor coolant pump for Westinghouse’s AP1000® reactor, one of the safest and most economical nuclear plant designs available in the worldwide commercial marketplace and the only Generation III+ design certified by the NRC. Our first-of-a-kind reactor coolant pump technology is at the heart of the plant’s pressurized water reactor. Currently, AP1000 plants that will utilize our reactor coolant pumps are under construction in the U.S. and China, with at least four plants expected to be on-line before the end of the decade. Domestically, applications for 28 new reactors at 17 power plants have been submitted to the NRC, half of which have selected the AP1000 design. Internationally, there are nearly 70 new reactors under construction in 13 countries, with approximately 160 planned and over 320 more proposed, led by construction in China, India and the U.S.
On the horizon for this industry is the development of Small Modular Reactor (SMR) designs. While smaller in scale (some are approximately one-third the size of current nuclear plants), SMRs require essentially the same equipment set and expertise as that needed for large reactors, with their compact, scalable designs expected to offer a host of safety, construction and economic benefits. This offers Curtiss-Wright an opportunity to apply its vast industry and technological experience to supporting new SMR designs.
It takes impeccable credentials to be a nuclear industry supplier. Curtiss-Wright invests in the equipment, technical talent, strategic partnerships and quality assurance certifications to meet the stringent requirements of the commercial nuclear power market.