The UK's Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the Environment Agency (EA) have completed "initial high-level scrutiny" of the UK HPR1000 reactor design. The design now moves onto the third of four stages in the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process.

A rendering of the UK HPR1000 (Image: ONR)

The UK HPR1000 is the Hualong One design that General Nuclear Services (GNS) - a subsidiary of EDF and China General Nuclear (CGN) - proposes to use at a prospective new nuclear power plant in Bradwell, England.

The GDA process has a number of steps, with the technical assessment becoming increasingly more detailed. Step 2 is the first in which the regulators assess the acceptability of safety, security and environmental protection of the design.

The ONR and EA said they had not identified in Step 2 any fundamental issues to prevent a plant based on the UK HPR1000 from being built in the UK.

Nuclear regulator ONR is tasked with assessing the fundamental safety and security aspects of the design. It said that, together with GNS, it had completed the preparatory work necessary to enable commencement of Step 3. It noted, however, that there is still a considerable amount of work that will need to be undertaken by GNS going forward in the GDA process, "requiring significant resources across all of the topic areas" for the company.

GNS said progression of the UK HPR1000 to the next step of the GDA process follows a year of intensive work by teams in the UK, China and France, during which time the UK public has had the opportunity to comment on the design details shared during Step 2. Step 3 will move to deeper analysis of the design of the UK HPR1000 nuclear technology, and will continue to be open to public comment, it said.

"This is an important milestone for the GDA project, involving many thousands of hours of engineering work, and is a great demonstration of the effectiveness of the CGN and EDF joint venture in the UK," said Zhu Minhong, managing director of GNS. "I would encourage the public to continue to engage with the process and provide feedback on the next level of detail that is being provided as part of Step 3."

The regulators aim to complete the GDA of the UK HPR1000 in late 2021.

Under a strategic investment agreement signed in October 2016, CGN agreed to take a 33.5% stake in EDF Energy's Hinkley Point C project in Somerset, as well as jointly develop new nuclear power plants at Sizewell in Suffolk and Bradwell in Essex. The Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C plants will be based on France's EPR reactor technology, while the new plant at Bradwell in Essex will feature the Hualong One design.

As part of that agreement, CGN formed a joint venture company with EDF Energy to seek regulatory approval for a UK version of the Hualong One design.

The GDA is a voluntary process for reactor vendors - it is policy rather than law - but it is a government expectation for all new-build projects in the UK. In January 2017, the British government formally requested regulators start the process for the UK HPR1000. The initial preparatory step was completed in November last year.

CGN is constructing two demonstration HPR1000 reactors at the Fangchenggang site in China's Guangxi Autonomous Region, about 45km from the border with Vietnam. This is the reference plant for the Bradwell project. First concrete was poured for the nuclear island of unit 3 of the Fangchenggang plant - 39% owned by Guangxi Investment Group and 61% by CGN - in December 2015, while that for unit 4 was poured a year later. Unit 3 is expected to start up next year, with unit 4 scheduled to start up in 2020.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Thursday, 15 November 2018
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