The USA’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has given final design approval (FDA) to GE Hitachi’s Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR), clearing the way for global sales of the new nuclear reactor.

The FDA means that ESBWR units can be built in all countries around the world that recognise the approval as acceptance by the “country of origin”. The NRC has also given the ESBWR a positive final safety evaluation report (FSER).

“The ESBWR is one final step away from becoming a reality,” said Caroline Reda, president and CEO of GEH. “The FSER and FDA mark a crucial step forward for the ESBWR’s global commercial prospects.”

GE is proposing to build ESBWR-based nuclear plants in India and Poland. In the USA, the ESBWR design has been selected by Michigan utility DTE Energy for the planned reactor project at the Fermi 2 site, near Detroit.

The NRC is currently reviewing DTE Energy’s license application for the Fermi 3 project, which serves as the “reference combined license application” for the ESBWR design.

The NRC’s positive FSER clears the path for GEH’s ESBWR to receive the agency’s final design certification in the autumn of 2011, providing regulatory finality of the ESBWR design in the USA.