UK ABWR Completed GDA Assessment

Hitachi-GE’s UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactor design approved for construction in the UK.

Horizon Nuclear Power plans to build two 1300MWe ABWRs at the Wylfa Newydd site on Anglesey by the mid-2020s; followed by two at Oldbury-Upon-Severn, South Gloucestershire.

The UK Advance Boiling Water Reactor (UK ABWR) provided by Hitachi-GE has now completed the generic design assessment (GDA) – an assessment conducted by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales. GDA is a joint process undertaken by the ONR and the Environment Agency. The regulators get involved with nuclear reactor design companies at the earliest stage where they can have the most influence. The process focuses purely on the reactor design and does not consider any site specific issues. The regulators will only conduct GDA on a new power station design following a request from the government.

Hitachi-GE’s UK ABWR began the Generic Design Assessment in April 2013. The process has entailed detailed assessments and submissions across 20 topic workstreams.

The UK ABWR achieved a Design Acceptance Confirmation (DAC) and Statement of Design Acceptability (SoDA) on the 14th December 2017. This means that the regulators are satisfied that the UK ABWR meets regulatory expectations on safety, security and environmental protection at this stage of the regulatory process.

Each build will still require a site-specific licence. Horizon expects to obtain all necessary licences for Wylfa Newydd by the end of 2018.

The Design Acceptance Certificate (DAC) for the UK ABWR is signed by ONR’s Mark Foy (Image: Hitachi-GE)

ONR chief nuclear inspector Mark Foy commented: “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 licence 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.”

Jo Nettleton, deputy director for radioactive substances and installations regulation at the Environment Agency, said: “We’ve concluded that the generic design of the UK ABWR should be capable of meeting the high standards of environmental protection and waste management that we require in the UK. We only came to this conclusion after carefully reviewing the submissions provided by GE-Hitachi and their responses to the questions and issues we raised. We’ve also carefully considered all the comments we received from people during our public consultation and we’re grateful for all who took part for taking time to respond.”

Horizon CEO Duncan Hawthorne welcomed the completion of GDA. He 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.” Hawthorne added, “It’s testament to the strength of the combined team, and the proven nature of the technology, that the GDA process has been completed and delivered on time.”

Tadashi Kume, president & representative director of Hitachi-GE, said: “Meeting the famously high standards of the UK regulators and completing GDA within our five year target further demonstrates the strength of this project, and capability of the team delivering it. GDA is a thorough and rigorous assessment, and receiving approval on schedule is a credit to the outstanding design of the UK ABWR.”

Bill Lee, Sêr Cymru Professor of Nuclear Engineering at Bangor University said: “This is really good news and emphasises the need for the UK in general, and N Wales in particular, to provide technical education and leading research into the Boiling Water Reactor since this is a new reactor design for the UK”.

The ABWR design has already received regulatory approvals in the USA and Japan. Four units have been built in Japan, and the ABWR is under construction at Shimane and Ohma sites in Japan.

How two UK ABWR units could appear at Wylfa Newydd (Image: Horizon)

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 estimates that around 60 per cent by value of the first reactor will be sourced in the UK, with more local input into later plant. Hitachi-GE has signed agreements with Rolls-Royce and Babcock International to plan and deliver the programme, and will establish an assembly facility for its modular construction technology in the UK.




Article Written by Professor Bill Lee