Hitachi-GE ABWR design cleared for use in UK

14 December 2017

Hitachi-GE's UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (UK ABWR) is suitable for construction in the UK, regulators have concluded following an in-depth Generic Design Assessment (GDA). The regulators said they were satisfied the reactor "meets regulatory expectations on safety, security and environmental protection at this stage of the regulatory process".

Wylfa Newydd CGI - 460 (Horizon)
How two UK ABWR units could appear at Wylfa Newydd (Image: Horizon)

The 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.

Hitachi's UK ABWR began the Generic Design Assessment process for its UK subsidiary Horizon Nuclear Power in April 2013. The process has entailed detailed assessments and submissions across 20 topic workstreams.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation announced today that it has now issued a DAC to Hitachi-GE, while the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales have issued a SoDA to the company.

The ONR's chief nuclear inspector, Mark Foy, said: "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."

He added, "We are 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."

The ABWR design is already licensed in Japan and the USA. Four units have been built in Japan, and two are currently under construction on Taiwan. 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 also plans two UK ABWR units for its site in Oldbury, Gloucestershire.

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."

The first reactor design to receive a DAC and SoDA was Areva's European Pressurised Reactor in December 2012. This was followed by the Westinghouse AP1000 in March 2017. The Hualong One design that General Nuclear Services - a subsidiary of EDF and China General Nuclear - proposes to use at Bradwell began the GDA process in January.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News