UK regulators approve China's UK HPR1000 design

07 February 2022

The UK HPR1000 reactor is suitable for construction in the UK, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the Environment Agency have concluded. The UK HPR1000 is the Hualong One design that General Nuclear Services (GNS) - a subsidiary of EDF and China General Nuclear (CGN) - proposes to use at a prospective new nuclear power plant in Bradwell, England.

A cutaway of the UK HPR1000 design (Image: CGN)

The Generic Design Assessment (GDA) is a voluntary process for reactor vendors that applies to England and Wales, and is a policy rather than law, but it is a British government expectation for all new build projects.

A reactor vendor, or the 'requesting party', has completed the GDA process when it receives a Design Acceptance Confirmation (DAC) from the nuclear regulator and a Statement of Design Acceptability (SoDA) from environmental regulators.

CGN and EDF submitted a joint application through their joint venture company GNS to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in October 2016 to begin the GDA process for a UK version of its HPR1000. The application was accepted in January 2017, marking the start of the four-step GDA process.

Following completion of their in-depth assessment of the reactor design, the ONR and the Environment Agency have said they are satisfied that the reactor meets regulatory expectations on safety, security and environmental protection at this stage of the regulatory process.

ONR has issued a DAC and the Environment Agency has issued a SoDA for the design.

"The UK HPR1000 design has been assessed against the high levels of safety and security expected in the UK, and issuing the Design Acceptance Confirmation - after rigorous and detailed assessments undertaken by a wide range of my specialist inspectors - means we consider the UK HPR1000 design is suitable for deployment in the UK," said ONR Chief Nuclear Inspector Mark Foy.

Saffron Price Finnerty, Nuclear Regulation Manager at the Environment Agency, added: "We've completed a rigorous assessment of the UK HPR1000 and concluded that it is capable of meeting those high standards that we expect. This is why we are issuing a Statement of Design Acceptability for the UK HPR1000 to the partners in this design, China General Nuclear, EDF and General Nuclear International Ltd."

The regulators have previously carried out GDAs for: EDF-Areva's UK EPR, completed in December 2012 and currently under construction at Hinkley Point C in Somerset and proposed for construction at Sizewell C in Suffolk; Westinghouse's AP1000, completed in March 2017; and Hitachi-GE's Advanced Boiling Water reactor, completed in December 2017.

Bradwell Power Generation Company Limited - a joint subsidiary of CGN and EDF - is proposing to construct and operate a nuclear power station using twin UK HPR1000s at its site near the existing Magnox power station site at Bradwell in Essex.

In addition to the GDA process, other required permissions include planning permission (the Development Consent Order) where the EA provides advice to the decision maker (BEIS's secretary of state), primarily via the Planning Inspectorate that examines the site-specific proposals and provides recommendations to the secretary of state.

CGN is constructing two demonstration HPR1000 reactors at the Fangchenggang site in China's Guangxi Autonomous Region, about 45km from the border with Vietnam.

This is the reference plant for the Bradwell project. First concrete was poured for the nuclear island of unit 3 of the Fangchenggang plant - 39% owned by Guangxi Investment Group and 61% by CGN - in December 2015, while that for unit 4 was poured a year later. Those units are expected to start up in the second half of 2022 and the first half of 2024, respectively.

In November 2020, the HPR1000 design was formally certified as compliant by the European Utility Requirements organisation - a technical advisory group for European utilities on nuclear power plants.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News