ONR and Environment Agency to assess ABWR reactor design

The reactor design for two new nuclear power stations in England and Wales is to undergo a generic design assessment (GDA) by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and Environment Agency.

Horizon Nuclear Power intends to use Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy’s Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) design in power stations proposed for Oldbury in Gloucestershire and Wylfa on Anglesey.

Hitachi completed the £696m acquisition of Horizon from RWE and E.ON in November 2012. Hitachi-GE will now act as technology provider and delivery team leader for Horizon’s developments.

These include plans by Hitachi to build two to three 1,300MW plants at each site, with the first units coming online in the mid-2020s.

In a written statement to parliament, energy minister John Hayes said: ‘The application is an exceptional one.

‘It is an application for GDA of a reactor design that has already been in operation elsewhere in the world.

‘And it follows the purchase by the vendor and designer of the intended operator of two sites that have been determined in the Nuclear National Policy Statement as potentially suitable for the deployment of new nuclear power stations, and the purchase of the sites themselves.’

ONR and the Environment Agency said they will now begin preparatory work with the Department of Energy and Climate Change and Hitachi-GE about the timescales and resources involved in assessing this new design.

In December, the independent nuclear regulators concluded a five-year generic design assessment for EDF and Areva’s UKEPR nuclear reactor.

They said in a statement, ‘In December, we concluded a generic design assessment for the (EDF and Areva) UKEPR nuclear reactor, a process which secured safety enhancements to the original design.

‘This experience shows that we have an appropriate model in place to carry out such work, but we also recognise that the ABWR design is different and will present its own unique challenges.’