The government has confirmed that four applications received by the regulators’ Joint Programme Office for the opening phase of generic design assessment of new nuclear reactors have met the government’s eligibility criteria.
The designs from AECL, Areva, GE-Hitachi and Toshiba-Westinghouse are eligible for the first stage of the pre-licensing process which will be taken forward by the Joint Programme Office (JPO) comprising of the Office for Civil Nuclear Security (OCNS), the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) and the Environment Agency (EA).
The nuclear consultation document, ‘The Future of Nuclear Power: The Role of Nuclear Power in a Low Carbon UK Economy’, published alongside the Energy White Paper in May, invited applications from vendors of nuclear reactor designs for generic design assessment, or pre-licensing, and set out the criteria for designs to be eligible for the pre-licensing process
The government is currently consulting on its view that, in the context of tacking climate change and ensuring energy security, it is in the public interest to give companies the option of investing in new nuclear power stations. The initial stages of pre-licensing are being carried out on a contingent basis alongside, and subject to, the outcome of the nuclear consultation.
Starting the first steps in the detailed and lengthy generic design assessment process is a prudent step, alongside the nuclear consultation, to keeping open the option of new nuclear power stations.
If successful in phase one, which includes an assessment of the safety case for each reactor design, a design may be able to progress to phase two of the generic design assessment, where the designs will be assessed in more detail. Phase two is subject to the outcome of the nuclear consultation.