Sizewell reactor shortlist is reduced

THE shortlist for the design of new nuclear reactors planned for Sizewell and elsewhere in the UK is set to be reduced from four to three - to ensure regulators can meet the scrutiny schedule.

David Green

THE shortlist for the design of new nuclear reactors planned for Sizewell and elsewhere in the UK is set to be reduced from four to three - to ensure regulators can meet the scrutiny schedule.

The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, part of the Health and Safety Executive, together with the Environment Agency and the Office for Civil Nuclear Security are carrying out an analysis of four possible reactor designs submitted by companies bidding for the contract to build the UK's next generation of nuclear power stations.

Two of the new reactors, together expected to cost £6billion are planned for Sizewell where the B station has been in operation for 13 years and the A station, built in the 1960s, is now in the very early stages of decommissioning.

Regulators assessing the safety, security and environmental impact of the various designs have so far identified no problems which would prevent any of them from ultimately being approved.

However, the assessment process is so time-consuming that the Government has decided to reduce the shortlist from four to three - to try to ensure that completion of the analysis does not delay the start of construction.

Most Read

Nuclear power operators are now being invited to nominate a maximum of three designs they wish to support and to rank the designs according to their preference.

Operators are being requested to give reasons for their nominations and rankings. This is to ensure that those designs that have the greatest chance of being built in this country by a future operator are prioritised.

In addition, the vendors of the four reactor designs have been asked for evidence to support their design through the prioritisation process.

Eligible reactor design vendors and “credible” nuclear power operators - those with at least one nuclear plant already in operation - have until April 9 to submit the information.

The Government is expected to make a decision by the end of that month on the three designs to go forward. Regulators will have until 2011 to completed their assessments.

“The objective of this is to allow the nuclear regulators to focus their resources on those designs which are most capable of being licensed and operational in the UK within a 2016-2022 timeframe,” said a spokesman for the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR).

The four designs currently under scrutiny have been submitted by AECL, Areva, GE-Hitachi and Toshiba Westinghouse. The “favourite” is expected to be the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR), the prototype of which is now under construction in Finland.

If adopted for the twin reactors planned for Sizewell, construction could start in 2013 and be completed by 2018. Two EPRs would produce a total of 3,200 megawatts (MW) of electricity. Sizewell B produces 1,175 MW.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter