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Mon April 12 2021

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Horizon nuclear plans move to next stage

2 Nov 15 The designs of Horizon Nuclear Power’s planned power stations at Wylfa and Oldbury have cleared the third of four regulatory approval hurdles.

Wylfa would be the first UK application of advanced boiling water reactor nuclear power
Wylfa would be the first UK application of advanced boiling water reactor nuclear power

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has completed step three of its generic design assessment (GDA) of Hitachi-GE’s UK advanced boiling water reactor (ABWR) nuclear power station design that Horizon plans to use.

Horizon Nuclear Power engineering director Mark Lunn said: “This is an important step forward for our Wylfa Newydd Project and keeps us firmly on track to start generating in the first half of the 2020s. The hard work will continue but we have made strong progress towards delivery of the secure, sustainable and affordable power that will come from our development.”

Horizon Nuclear Power was formed in 2009 to develop new nuclear power stations in the UK. It was acquired by Hitachi in November 2012 and is developing plans to build at least 5,400MW of new nuclear power generation plant at Wylfa on the Isle of Anglesey and Oldbury-on-Severn in Gloucestershire.

The third phase of the GDA considered the safety and security arguments presented by Hitachi-GE. ONR has concluded that sufficient progress has been made by Hitachi-GE to move into the final assessment stage, which Hitachi-GE expects to complete in December 2017.

Jane Bowie, ONR’s head of GDA said: “We are now ready to start the fourth and final step of the assessment process. Throughout step 3, interactions with Hitachi-GE have been positive; they are responsive and open to constructive challenge and engagement. There is still a lot of work to be undertaken by Hitachi-GE, and they will have to maintain high quality, on-time delivery to achieve their target DAC date of December 2017.”

The next milestone in the GDA process will be the start of the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) consultation on the environmental part of the assessment, which is planned to start in October 2016.

Once the overall assessment is complete, ONR, the Environment Agency and NRW will use the work to help inform any subsequent assessments for site specific proposals that use this reactor design – such as Horizon Nuclear Power’s proposed developments at Wylfa Newydd on Anglesey and Oldbury in South Gloucestershire. Before any site specific development could proceed, the operator still has to secure all relevant permissions for the site including a nuclear site licence and environmental permits.

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At the regulators’ request Hitachi-GE has set up a comments process that enables people to see and comment on the submissions made to the regulators. Hitachi-GE will respond to relevant comments and questions that it receives. The regulators will also see the comments and questions submitted and the responses provided and can use these to help inform their work.

Hitachi Europe general manager for licensing, Ken Sato, said: “Progression to step four in around two and a half years is a sign of the strong progress we have made. We are delighted that ONR has moved to their final step, and that we are on schedule to complete GDA by the end of 2017.

“GDA is rightly a thorough and rigorous assessment - challenging scrutiny from the regulators is to be expected and welcomed. This will continue through Step 4, and we remain focused on providing detailed submissions, and addressing the regulators’ questions. 

“Hitachi-GE now has a team of well in excess of 300 experts working on GDA. We’re drawing on world-class experience from within our team and from across our contractors. With continued focus, we’re optimistic that we can maintain the excellent progress seen to date. 

He continued: “The ABWR is the only generation III+ reactor which has entered operation anywhere in the world, and has been delivered on-time and on-budget. The ABWR is a byword for reliable delivery in the nuclear sector.”

Four ABWRs are already operational at three sites in Japan and three more are under construction.

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