EDF Energy and Areva together applied for type approval for their European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) design, which is third generation pressurized water reactor. Regulatory approval marks a significant step towards the start of construction of a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
The completion of the generic design assessment (GDA) process involves the award of the design acceptance confirmation (DAC) from the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the statement of design acceptability (SoDA) from the Environment Agency. This certification recognises that the EPR design meets the UK’s safety requirements as assessed by the joint regulators, even in the light of lessons learned from the Fukushima meltdown in 2011.
The assessment has required the parties involved to undertake 850,000 hours of engineering studies over four years. All reactor types proposed for construction in the UK must complete the assessment. The EPR is the first of the reactors currently planned for nuclear new build in the UK to complete the GDA process.
EDF Energy chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said: “The acceptance of the design for the EPR reactor is a major achievement and milestone for our new nuclear project in Somerset. It represents four years of hard work and allows our project have a stable design before we start, offering a huge boost for the predictability of costs. It highlights our credibility and that of the EPR design, as well as demonstrating that the UK has a credible policy and regulatory framework in place.”
EDF has yet to decide whether to proceed with Hinkley Point C and is still negotiating financial arrangements with the government.
Mr Rivaz added: “Working with government to agree a Contract for Difference that offers a deal that is fair and balanced for both consumers and investors, our objective is to have all the main components in place in the next few weeks, so that we can take our final investment decision for Hinkley Point at the earliest possible date.”