EDF Energy and AREVA new nuclear reactor design on course

EDF Energy and Areva have welcomed further progress on approval for the EPR reactor design planned for new nuclear power stations at Hinkley Point and Sizewell. 

The update from regulators means that the UK EPR remains on schedule to be approved by the end of this year – in time for a decision from EDF Energy on whether to proceed with the project.

The  Generic Design Assessment (GDA) update from the Office of Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency confirms the closure of six further GDA issues.  Since the end of last week the ONR has reported separately that an additional nine GDA issues have been closed out.

According to the joint regulators: “We now have technical agreement on the route to completion of almost all of the GDA Issues, and the remaining areas of discussion are receiving significant attention with a view to agreeing a way forward.”  The report recognises “the improvements in the quality and timeliness of the submissions” made by EDF Energy and AREVA to address issues during the last six months, and concludes that “closure of all issues should be achievable before the end of the year”.

Today’s update is another step forward for the project and follows good progress on:  planning, agreement with local councils on mitigation for the impact of construction and the identification of contractors who will construct Hinkley Point C. A final decision to progress depends on agreeing a robust framework with Government that will give a fair and balanced deal for consumers and investors.

EDF Energy Managing Director of Nuclear New Build, Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson said: “This is another important step which brings us closer to being able to deliver the huge infrastructure project at Hinkley Point, which is as large as the Olympics and offers big benefits for the country in jobs, skills and economic activity.

“Subject to a final decision to invest, these will be the first new nuclear reactors built in the UK for around 20 years. The proposed new station at Hinkley will provide enough low carbon electricity to power five million homes. We welcome this recognition that we are set to see the EPR design licensed for use in the UK before the end of the year.

“As today’s report notes, the interaction between EDF Energy, AREVA and the joint regulator has been ‘intensive’ and we are pleased that the focus all parties have placed on the process has resulted in significant steps forward. We and AREVA remain committed to achieving the close out of all issues by the end of 2012.“

Alain-Pierre Raynaud, Chairman of AREVA UK, said: “We are encouraged by this very positive report and the momentum which has built up to resolve the remaining issues. AREVA is committed to providing the information and resource required to resolve the diminishing number of outstanding issues by the end of the year. We look forward to the award of full certification to the EPR. When achieved this would make it the first and only Generation III plus nuclear reactor to have won the approval of the UK nuclear regulator after progressing through all the stages of its exhaustive generic design approval process.”

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