Areva, British Energy move for new UK nuclear

20 June 2007

Areva has submitted its EPR nuclear reactor to UK authorities for Generic Design Assessment (GDA), while British Energy (BE) investigates all four potential new-build designs.

Paperwork on the generic UK EPR design, similar to that currently being built in Finland and France and planned for China and the USA, has been submitted two days in advance of the 22 June deadline set out in the recent energy white paper.

Mark Wheeler of the UK Health and Safety Executive told World Nuclear News that AECL, Areva, General Electric and Westinghouse have all now submitted fulldocumentation to the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate's (NII's) project office as applications for the forthcoming GDA process. The submitted designs are ACR1000, EPR, ESBWR and AP1000 respectively. Wheeler added thatMitsubishi Heavy Industries had made enquiries about the process buthad not taken further action.

The NII will shortly begin a preliminary assessment on the 'licensability' of the submitted designs, expected to be complete in late 2007 or early 2008. The three reactor designs judged to be both licensable and most preferred by industry would then go forward to the three-year GDA process.

Areva intends to manage an 'Alliance' of companies that support EPR and "are considering EPR for new build in the UK." The companies are: BE, EdF, EOn, Iberdrola, RWE, and Suez. The result of the effort should be that each company would become an 'intelligent licensee' in preparation for subsequent site licence applications.

"Our strategy is to license EPR as quickly as possible and make it available to all clients," said Luc Oursel, President of Areva NP, the company's reactors and services division.

Meanwhile, BE hope to "develop a position at the heart of nuclear new build activity that safeguards the integrity of our existing operations and makes full use of our assets."

BE operates the all UK's indigenous Advanced Gas-cooled Reactors, its only pressurized water reactor, and also owns the sites on which they sit. Many industry observers suggest that existing nuclear sites are the most likely for new nuclear power plants. BE said: "We have begun preparatory activity aimed at developing new capacity on one or more of our sites." It is "looking at deployment in the UK for commercial operation from around 2016."

The company has said it supports and has had "initial discussions" with all four reactor vendors in the UK market. BE is currently conducting its own study of the designs, timed to end when the NII issue their initial assessment, expected in late 2007 or early 2008.

Further information

British Energy

Health and Safety Executive: New nuclear power stations - Generic Design Assessment

WNA's Nuclear Power in the United Kingdom information paper

WNN: "Practical but radical UK energy policies"
WNN: New UK planning process could facilitate new nuclear build
WNN: UK pre-licensing moves