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A very successful R&D workshop at Sizewell B

By EDF | Posted March 09, 2023

2022 was the year that R&D nuclear set itself a new goal – to strengthen the collaborative ties between EDF France and the UK, targeting areas of synergy where best practice, expertise and common challenges could be openly shared. With several synergy workshops being held virtually demonstrating the success of this collaborative initiative; 2023 was to be the year the teams would strive to meet in person. In the spirit of this, earlier this month the R&D Nuclear team, supported by Patrick Dupeyrat and CTO Richard Bradfield met their French counterparts and senior stakeholders (including Alain Le Gac, Group R&D director for Generation) on site at Sizewell B hosted by the station director Robert Gunn. 

Sizewell B, the UK’s only PWR reactor has been operating on the Suffolk coast since 1995. Recently, commitments have been made to building Sizewell C adjacent to the site, but Sizewell B is still very much part of the future UK net zero generation. Originally intended for a 60- year lifespan, efforts are now being made to develop the safety cases to enable an 80-year operational life of the plant! Where could R&D nuclear support this pinnacle of UK power plants on its life extension journey? Well, that was to be the dominant conversation during the day-long visit.

Conversations flowed back and forth all day long, shifting from demonstrations of UK and French R&D capabilities and highlights of successful station-focused research through to the challenges of a 20-year life extension programme. Despite the January chill and the frost, the group were given a tour of the plant’s facilities with a specific focus on the fuel dry-store. A tour that not only showed what an impressive station Sizewell B is; but also bought home the scale and physicality of many of the challenges that are to be faced.

After the tour, and a lunch break, it was discussion time again. This time the focus was on the practical possibilities for R&D to support the stations. Discussions included natural hazard assessments and how these can be combined to also support the building of Sizewell C, through to structural integrity and chemistry. This was synergy in action with real value and a perfect end to the day.