The ONR said in a statement that step 3 of the GDA process took “a more detailed” assessment of the reactor design by focusing on the methods and approaches used by the applicant General Nuclear System (GNS).
China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) and EDF Energy, through their joint venture company GNS, wrote to regulators requesting the GDA process in October 2016. It began in January 2017.
Step 2 of the GDA process was competed in November 2018. At that stage, the ONR considered the safety and security of the design and the UK Environmental Agency considered its environmental acceptability.
The ONR’s director for the UK HPR1000 process Ana Gomez-Cobo said the objective of the GDA is to ensure the proposed design is capable of being built, operated, and decommissioned in accordance with the UK’s standards of safety, security and environmental protection.
“During step 3 of GDA we have undertaken assessment work across 19 technical disciplines and covered topics of a cross-cutting nature”, said Ms Gomez-Corbo.
She said: “Our assessment to date has not identified any fundamental safety or security shortfalls that would prevent us issuing a Design Acceptance Confirmation for the UK HPR1000 design.”
The ONR said their analysis has identified some areas for which CGN must provide more information but these have been classified as “regulatory observations”.
“Although progress so far is encouraging, a lot of work by the requesting party is still required”, said Ms Gomez-Corbo and added that the ONR will continue assessing safety and security submissions throughout step 4 of the GDA process.
According to the ONR, the four-stage GDA is an upfront process which enables resolution of technical issues and early identification of required design changes, which reduces regulatory uncertainty for developers.
The ONR said the GDA is a voluntary process and not a legal requirement of the UK’s licensing regime for new power plants, but the government expects reactor designers to follow the process.
The regulator said that a successful completion of the GDA does not guarantee the granting of a regulatory permit to begin construction or operation of a new nuclear power plant. A prospective operator will have to obtain a nuclear site licence for that purpose.
The ONR said three reactor designs have so far successfully completed a GDA process: EDF’s EPR, Westinghouse’ AP 1000, and GE Hitachi’s ABWR.
The HPR1000, also known as the Hualong One, is a China-designed 1,100-MW Generation III pressurised water reactor which incorporates elements of China’s ACP1000 and ACPR1000+ reactor designs.
CGN is a majority shareholder in Bradwell Power Generation Company, a joint venture with EDF, which is planning to build a single HPR1000 plant at Bradwell B in Essex, southeast England.
More information is available on the joint regulators website.