It depends on what you mean by “building.” Most new designs for nuclear power plants envision actual construction time of around 4 or 5 years–for example, the AP1000, a new type of nuclear reactor approved by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, is supposed to be ready for operation 60 months after the order is placed. However, as nuclear power is heavily regulated as well as politically controversial, the administrative permit process to allow the plant to operate can be considerably longer than that. In the past it was not uncommon for a plant to take more than 10 years to come on line due to administrative hearings and delays. However, in the U.S., attempts have been made (such as the U.S. Department of Energy’s “Nuclear Power 2010” project) to streamline the permitting process so as to cut down these delays and decrease the economic risk associated with a long-term, high-cost decision to invest in nuclear power generation.
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