French and Chinese companies EDF Energy and China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) said Tuesday that the British government had requested nuclear power regulators – namely the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the Environment Agency – to begin a Generic Design Assessment (GDA) of the hybrid UK HPR1000 nuclear reactor technology that is slated for inclusion in Britain's generation mix at a future plant at Bradwell in Essex.
The plans are part of a financial arrangement in which CGN agreed to a much needed financial commitment to the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant construction project approved by the British government in September. That plant will deploy European Pressurized Reactor technology developed in France, as will another joint construction project at Sizewell C. CGN will put up 33.5 percent of the finanacing for Hinkley Point C, a deal-breaking sum for the $24 billion project. In turn, CGN was granted a minority investment position in Sizewell C and a majority position for the Bradwell project using HPR1000 technology.
The HPR1000 design is an amalgamation of CGN's ACPR1000 technology and China National Nuclear Corporation's ACP1000 design. The companies were instructed by the Chinese government in 2012 to develop a specific design that would be used for the export market. This resulted in the Hualong One design, which was submitted to the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) last October for an initial review that would start the voluntary process of seeking GDA certifications, according to the World Nuclear Association.
The review was formally submitted by General Nuclear System Ltd, a joint venture between CGN and EDF.
In forwarding the application to regulators, junior BEIS minister Jesse Norman noted that the request for approval demonstrated the viability of Britain as a market for international companies “to view investment in the UK's low-carbon energy future positively.”
In a joint statement, CGN and EDF noted that reference plant for the design is CGN’s Fangchenggang Plant Unit 3 in China which is under construction and "on schedule," the companies said.
The companies said the government's move Tuesday was “a key step in the development of proposals from CGN and EDF for a new nuclear power station at Bradwell in Essex.” They noted that the UK's nuclear regulators, the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency, are considered “among the most rigorous, independent nuclear regulators in the world.”
It was also noted that the proposed Bradwell project is in an early pre-planning stage which will involve many years of investigative works and public consultations before detailed proposals are produced allowing a planning application to be made.
Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, EDF Energy Nuclear New Build MD said: “EDF will bring invaluable experience gained from the approval process for Hinkley Point C’s EPR reactors and from our continuing work with the UK’s independent regulators. Both EDF and CGN will also be listening carefully to the community around Bradwell before we draw up detailed proposals for the development of the new power station.”
Zhu Minhong, General Manager of CGN UK said: “The robust independence of the UK’s regulators is seen across the world as a key strength for nuclear in Britain. This is a quality which we value and respect. CGN and EDF will bring to this enterprise their joint experience in China, Britain and France over many years.”
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