By issuing a design certification, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approves a nuclear power plant design, independent of an application to construct or operate a plant. A design certification is valid for 15 years from the date of issuance, but can be renewed for an additional 10 to 15 years.
Design certification is achieved through the NRC’s rulemaking process, and is founded on the staff’s review of the application, which addresses the
various safety issues associated with the proposed nuclear power plant design, independent
of a specific site. During this process, the NRC notifies all stakeholders (including the public) as to how and when they may participate in the regulatory
process, which may include participating in public meetings and rulemaking activities related to design certifications.
See our Backgrounder on New Nuclear Plant Designs for an overview of new nuclear plant designs and the status of their respective