Stage set for UK reactor evaluation

22 June 2007

Four nuclear reactor vendors met the UK government's 22 June deadline to submit details of their designs and industrial sponsors.

AECL of Canada proposed its 1200 MWe ACR1000 pressurized heavy water reactor. It told World Nuclear News it had support from British Energy (BE) and "indications of support from potential utilities and investors in the UK." The company said that over the years it had never stopped building nuclear power reactors and that there is now a strong and diverse worldwide technology base for their design.

Areva of France put forward its 1600MWe EPR pressurized water reactor, (PWR) claiming support from BE, EdF, EOn, Iberdrola, RWE and Suez among others. EPRs are under construction in Finland and France; two are planned for China; and four for the USA.

GE-Hitachi (GEH), the newly formed partnership between those companies' nuclear energy divisions, submitted the 1550 MWe ESBWR boiling water reactor. Three ESBWRs are planned for the USA. GEH said it was supported by BE, Iberdrola and RWE.

Westinghouse of the USA submitted the 1100 MWe AP1000 PWR, four of which are planned for China; ten for the USA. BE supports the design, as does EOn.

Regulators the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) will now begin, in discussion with the Department of Trade and Industry, to evaluate the 'licensability' of the designs in the UK. After this 'design acceptance' process, the departments will pick a shortlist of three designs for further study on a path to Generic Design Acceptance (GDA).

In parallel to the GDA process, which would take around three years, the government would produce justification documents for new nuclear plants and utilities or consortia wishing to build would engage in new government planning procedures to qualify potential sites.

The UK nuclear industry hopes it could have pre-approved designs and pre-approved sites in place by around 2011. Applications to build made around then could result in new reactors operating by 2016.

Further information


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