Hitachi-GE ABWR Passes UK GDA

  • Horizon Nuclear Power is proposing to build and operate two of these reactors in Wylfa Newydd on Anglesey and two more Oldbury-on-Severn near Thornbury in South Gloucestershire.
  • Construction on the first two units at Wylfa is expected to begin in 2025. When all four units are complete they will provide 5.4 GWe of electricity to the UK.

The UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (UK ABWR), designed by Hitachi-GE is suitable for construction in the UK, the regulators confirmed following completion of an in-depth assessment of the nuclear reactor design.

At the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) the regulators who undertake the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) of new reactor designs, said they are satisfied that this reactor meets regulatory expectations on safety, security and environmental protection.

ONR has issued a Design Acceptance Confirmation (DAC) and the environment agencies have issued a Statement of Design Acceptability (SoDA) to Hitachi-GE.


Conceptual view of Hitachi-GE ABWR/  Image source: Hitachi-GE

Mark Foy, ONR’s Chief Nuclear Inspector said:

“The completion of the generic design assessment of the UK ABWR is a significant step in our regulation of the overall process to construct this type of reactor in the UK, ensuring that the generic design meets the highest standards of safety that we expect in this country. “

“We’re already working on our assessment of Horizon’s site license application and on the development of the site specific safety case to progress, in due course, the construction and operation of these reactors at Wylfa Newydd.”

According to a report by WNN the GDA is a voluntary process for reactor vendors that applies to England and Wales, and is a policy rather than law, but it is a British government expectation for all new build projects.

A reactor vendor, or the ‘requesting party’, has completed the GDA process when it receives a Design Acceptance Confirmation (DAC) from the nuclear regulator and a Statement of Design Acceptability (SoDA) from environmental regulators.

Hitachi’s UK ABWR began the Generic Design Assessment process for its UK subsidiary Horizon Nuclear Power in April 2013. The process has entailed detailed assessments and submissions across 20 topic workstreams.

There are four ABWR plants operational at three sites in Japan: two at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa site; one at Hamaoka site and one at Shika site. There are further plants under construction at Shimane and Ohma sites in Japan.

At full power, a single ABWR reactor produces around 1350MWe of electricity – enough to power more than two million homes.

The design is also licensed in the U.S. though no new ABWRs are expected to be built there. A new design, the 1535 MW ESBWR, has been developed by GE-Hitachi and passed the safety review by the U.S Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in October 2014.

Two utilities have referenced the ESBWR in their COL applications to the NRC – DTE for FERMI III in Michigan and Dominion for a new reactor at North Anna in Virginia. Neither utility has set a date for the start of construction.

Four ABWRs Planned for UK

Horizon Nuclear Power hopes to build two ABWR units at Wylfa Newydd site on the island of Anglesey in north Wales and start them up in around 2025. The units would be the first commercial boiling water reactors in the UK. Horizon also plans two UK ABWR units for its site in Oldbury, Gloucestershire.

NucNet reported that Duncan Hawthorne, Horizon’s chief executive, said:

“This is a huge milestone for Horizon and a major leap forward for us in bringing much-needed new nuclear power to the UK.”

Horizon said today that “steady progress” is being made with the Hitachi-backed Wylfa Newydd project, including the submission of the site license application and completion of a third public consultation. Attention will now turn to financing the Wylfa Newydd project.

Earlier this year Horizon said: “We have always been clear that we are looking to bring other investors into Horizon. Based on the strengths of our project, we are in positive discussions with a number of parties.”

UK ABWR Executives Chart Path Ahead for Horizon

(WNN) Successful completion of the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process for Hitachi-GE’s UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (UK ABWR) is a “huge step forward” for Hitachi’s UK subsidiary Horizon Nuclear Power, two senior executives said this week.

Hitachi-GE Regulatory Advisor Dave Watson and Horizon Technical Director Mark Lunn spoke to World Nuclear News as the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales announced yesterday they had awarded the UK ABWR a Design Acceptance Confirmation (DAC) and a Statement of Design Acceptability (SoDA).

Lunn said: “It’s a huge step forwards for us with the project because it shows an ability to deliver to schedule. The number of the assessment findings that we’d consider to be technically challenging is also significantly lower than what previous GDAs have seen.”

Read the full report at World Nuclear News.

UK to Develop New Financial Mechanisms for its Nuclear New Build

(Reuters) Hitachi’s Horizon Nuclear Power unit expects to see an outline in 2018 from Britain’s government how it will help finance a nuclear project in Wales.

Britain is seeking new ways to fund nuclear projects after criticism over a deal awarded to France’s EDF to build the first nuclear plant in Britain for 20 years at the Hinkley Point site. There two Areva 1650 MW EPRs will be built. When complete they will provide 7% of the electricity used in the UK.

The government has said it is reconsidering using a rate guarantee to attract investors for new nuclear plants. Instead, one of the alternatives being looked at its direct investment in new projects. At some point after the plants have been operational and proven themselves the government might then sell off the units to equity investors.

Separately, Reuters reported that South Korea’s state utility Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) said last week it had been picked as a preferred bidder for Toshiba’s NuGen nuclear project in Britain, throwing the troubled project a lifeline.

KEPCO said in a statement the company planned to negotiate with Toshiba over the next few months to buy a stake in the nuclear project and sign a deal in the first half of next year if the negotiation progressed smoothly.

Improvements Needed in Processes that Support UK New Nuclear Build

A report by a professional society of engineers says the government should hold an independent review of the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process, a necessary step for the approval of any reactor in the UK. The review is needed to prevent unnecessary costs and enable the faster approval of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs).

Other “key actions” include adding nuclear construction skills to the shortage occupation list ahead of Brexit – allowing experienced workers from overseas to enter the UK, and running a new Strategic Siting Assessment to identify further nuclear sites beyond Hinkley Point C’s potential completion in 2025, including locations for SMRs.


Major Nuclear New Build Sites in UK: Image: WNA

“The delays and escalating costs of the Hinkley Point C project have provoked a public backlash in recent years against nuclear power,” said Jenifer Baxter, lead author of the report an head of energy and environment at the IMechE.

The key challenge to the nuclear sector is reducing costs and delays, she said. An independent review of the assessment process will make it easier to approve SMRs and ensure unnecessary costs are not incurred, she added.

“SMRs present a lower-cost option, with comparatively straightforward construction and, potentially, a more attractive investment proposition than conventional larger-scale nuclear plants.”

More licensed sites are needed around the country to make the most of SMRs, said Andrew Storer, CEO of the University of Sheffield’s Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre to Professional Engineering.

All of the large full size nuclear plants planned for the UK are at coastal locations to take advantage of sea water for cooling purposes and to facilitate delivery of large components via barge.  SMRs could take advantage of inland sites since component manufacturing would allow them to be delivered by truck or train.

See also the World Nuclear Association profile of the UK nuclear new build for details of all projects at all sites.

Finnish Cities To Explore Small Modular Reactors For District Heating

(NucNet) The Finnish cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Kirkkonummi have begun studies to find out if it would be feasible to replace coal and natural gas in district heating with small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs), the environmental group Ecomodernist Society of Finland said.

The society said a feasibility study will be carried out into the potential for SMRs to replace fossil fuel-burning in cities around the Helsinki metropolitan area. Several advanced SMRs are in development and coming to market by 2030 that could meet the specifications.

Most of the district heating in Finland is produced by burning coal, natural gas, wood fuels and peat. While many Finnish cities have progressive climate policies and goals, they have struggled to decarbonise heating and liquid fuels.

Rauli Partanen, vice-chair of the society and an independent energy analyst and author, said there are “significant economic possibilities” in producing combined heat and power (CHP) with nuclear reactors.

“With CHP, the reactor could produce roughly twice the value per installed capacity compared with just electricity production, while at the same time decarbonising heat production.”

He said nuclear is great for baseload needs, but with advanced technologies such as high temperature reactors and high temperature electrolysis, nuclear can also be used to decarbonise not just electricity, heat but also transportation fuels and many industries.:

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