13 Dec 12

Regulators approve new nuclear reactor design in UK

EPR design is planned for new nuclear stations in Somerset

The design for the first new nuclear reactors in Britain for 25 years has been accepted for use in the UK. The success of the joint application from EDF Energy and AREVA marks another significant step forward for the proposed new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

The completion of the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process involves the award of the Design Acceptance Confirmation (DAC) from the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the Statement of Design Acceptability (SoDA) from the Environment Agency. This certification recognises that the EPR design meets the UK’s stringent safety requirements as assessed by the joint regulators. It has been demonstrated that the design is robust even when challenged by extreme events such as those seen following the Fukushima incident in 2011.

The intensive assessment has required the parties involved to undertake 850,000 hours of engineering studies over four years and will give the project at Hinkley Point a stable design which underpins accurate cost projections. All reactor types proposed for construction in the UK must complete the assessment. The EPR is the first of the reactors currently planned for nuclear new build in the UK to complete the GDA process.

Today’s announcement is the result of an effective working relationship between EDF Energy, as the licensee, and the independent regulators. EDF Energy is committed to continuing this professional approach as the company progresses its plans for the safe new nuclear power stations that will deliver secure, affordable, low carbon electricity for the UK as well as injecting huge value into the British economy.

EDF Energy Chief Executive Vincent de Rivaz said: “The acceptance of the design for the EPR reactor is a major achievement and milestone for our new nuclear project in Somerset. It represents four years of hard work and allows our project have a stable design before we start, offering a huge boost for the predictability of costs. It highlights our credibility and that of the EPR design, as well as demonstrating that the UK has a credible policy and regulatory framework in place.

“Working with Government to agree a Contract for Difference that offers a deal that is fair and balanced for both consumers and investors, our objective is to have all the main components in place in the next few weeks, so that we can take our Final Investment Decision for Hinkley Point at the earliest possible date.

“Not only has design acceptance for the UK EPR been delivered to the deadline agreed over a year ago, the cost assessments for the reactor which we have provided to Government remain unchanged.”

Robert Davies, CEO of AREVA UK, said “This opens the way for the new nuclear age in the UK. After four years of the most intense scrutiny by the UK’s independent regulators, they have confirmed that the EPR has met its rigorous requirements for design acceptance.”

Today’s announcement is the latest milestone to be passed as EDF Energy’s project has become “shovel ready”. It follows the granting of a Nuclear Site Licence for Hinkley Point C – the first to be awarded in the UK for 25 years. The company is now looking forward to a recommendation being made to the Secretary of State by the Planning Inspectorate regarding the planning application for the project.

EDF Energy is working in parallel with its major contractors to maximise the benefit of the proposed new nuclear project to the UK economy and supply chain, investing in and developing the skills and industrial capability which will deliver a long term return for the country.