Horizon Nuclear Power has signed contracts with both Areva and Westinghouse's UK consortium for preparatory design studies for its proposed new nuclear power plant at the existing Wylfa site in the UK.
|Horizon owns land surrounding these Magnox reactors at the existing Wylfa site (Image: NDA)
Horizon - a 50-50 joint venture between RWE nPower and EOn UK - is yet to decide which of the two available reactor designs it would like to build on land it has bought at Wylfa. Both the Areva EPR and Westinghouse AP1000 are engaged in the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process, due to certify them for build in June 2011. Both the companies are involved in a competitive bidding process which Horizon said would conclude at the end of the year.
Horizon has now signed Early Work Agreements with both Areva and Nuclear Power Delivery UK - a team comprising Westinghouse, Shaw Group, Laing O'Rourke and Toshiba - for site-specific design studies to be carried out between now and the end of 2010.
Alan Raymant, chief operating officer of Horizon, said: "We are already working with both companies in a formal procurement process regarding our preferred vendor. Progressing with some studies now, for both designs, will support our planning and licensing process by allowing us to develop the site specific designs, and make us a more informed buyer."
He added, "This will help deliver the best solution for Wylfa specifically and underpin our confidence in the build programme. It will also drive more competitive bids which ultimately will be good for the consumer, keeping the price of energy down."
In a statement, Areva said that in support of this early works activity, it has opened a project office in Gloucester, where Horizon is headquartered.
In June, the UK nuclear safety regulator - the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) - said detailed examination of the Areva EPR and Westinghouse AP1000 under the GDA process was well underway. However, it said that more information is required from the reactor vendors in a number of areas: fault studies, fuel design and electrical systems for AP1000; and mechanical engineering, environment and fuel design for the EPR. For both reactors the HSE wants more information on structural integrity, as well as higher active waste and used fuel management.
Regulators remain confident that Areva will be able to demonstrate sufficient independence of safety and operational control and instrumentation in the EPR, saying the company has proposed changes that are expected to lead to an "acceptable position".
For the AP1000, the HSE said there remains a regulatory issue requiring more evidence that civil structures are sufficiently robust and Westinghouse has "a considerable amount of work to do" on the safety case for the control and instrumentation system.
Last month, Horizon awarded engineering consultancy Frazer-Nash a five-year framework contract for the provision of regulatory and licensing services related to its plans for constructing new nuclear power plants in the UK.
Horizon proposes to have its first reactor, at Wylfa, commissioned as early as 2020. A planning application at Wylfa would be scheduled for 2012, and would be followed by a planning application for a second nuclear power plant at Oldbury once construction at Wylfa has started. However, these developments remain subject to "the right market conditions," the company warned in a possible reference to industry-wide calls for more certainty on carbon pricing. Ultimately Horizon wants up to 6600 MWe in nuclear generation capacity across both sites.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News