Westinghouse AP1000 wins UK approval

Westinghouse Electric Company has announced that its AP1000 nuclear power plant design has successfully completed review by UK regulators.

The AP1000 has concluded the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process, with the Office for Nuclear Regulation issuing a Design Acceptance Confirmation (DAC) and the Environment Agency issuing a Statement of Design Acceptability (SODA).

“The successful completion of this rigorous review by the ONR and the EA has been many years in the making, and it represents a major milestone toward bringing a new generation of safe, clean energy to the United Kingdom through the Moorside project,” said José Emeterio Gutiérrez, Westinghouse interim president and CEO. “In addition, it expands the global regulatory pedigree of the AP1000 plant design and further confirms Westinghouse’s innovative safety technology.”

New build developer NuGen plans to build three AP1000 units at the Moorside site in West Cumbria, providing up to 3.6GWe of new generation capacity.

NuGen CEO Tom Samson welcomed the news as a major step forward for Moorside: “This news from the UK regulators is further acknowledgement and a testament to the robust safety features and design of the AP1000 reactor which we will deploy at Moorside.

“Moorside’s three reactors will provide seven per cent of the UK’s electricity needs from a low-carbon source. This project will be transformational for Cumbria, and the North of England and will offer unrivalled employment, skills and supply chain opportunities in line with the government’s work on industrial strategy.”

AP1000s

Westinghouse initiated the GDA process in 2007. After receiving acceptance in 2011, the company paused the review process until NuGen selected the AP1000 plant technology in 2014.

ONRs chief nuclear inspector Dr Richard Savage commented: “The closure of our assessment of the generic design of the AP1000 reactor is a significant step in the process, ensuring the design meets the very high standards of safety we expect. We will now focus our regulatory attention on site specific assessments, and NuGen’s application for a nuclear site licence.”

Dr Jo Nettleton, deputy director for radioactive substances and installations regulation at the Environment Agency, said: “Successfully completing GDA means that the AP1000 is capable of meeting the high standards of environment protection and waste management that we require.
We’re already working with NuGen, as it develops its proposals to build and operate three AP1000 reactors at Moorside in Cumbria, to ensure that those high standards are delivered.”

The regulators required 51 GDA issues to be resolved before confirming the suitability of the AP1000. All of the issues have been addressed to the regulators’ satisfaction, enabling the DAC and SoDA to be issued. The regulators’ assessment reports are available online.

Westinghouse says that the three units planned at Moorside will benefit from its experience on the world’s first eight AP1000 units, which are currently being delivered at four sites in the US and China. Two units each are in the final stages of completion at the Sanmen and Haiyang sites in China, with an additional two units each under construction at the VC Summer and Vogtle sites in the US.

Westinghouse’s US business has meanwhile filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to enable strategic restructuring amid financial and construction challenges in its US AP1000 projects. NuGen says the move will not affect the Moorside project.

NuGen’s  in-house design authority will now take ownership of and responsibility for the design in relation to the AP1000 reactors at Moorside. Nugen will lead on engagement with regulators as it progresses its applications for a nuclear site licence, and works towards gaining consents and permits to construct, operate and eventually decommission Moorside .

 

Toshiba committed to UK new build

Toshiba has affirmed its commitment to the proposed new reactors at Moorside.

The announcement formed part of a review of Toshiba’s overseas nuclear power business, after the Japanese corporation recording a $6.3 billion loss on its Westinghouse subsidiary following a troubled acquisition in the US. Toshiba  holds a 60 per cent stake in NuGen, the UK developer planning to build three Westinghouse AP1000s at the site in West Cumbria.

NuGen chief executive Tom Samson said: “The project has made significant progress since Toshiba took over as major shareholder in 2014. The site has already been proven as suitable for three Westinghouse AP1000 reactors, two phases of consultation have found the public overwhelmingly supportive of the need for new nuclear and have helped shape the plans for Moorside.

“The UK government is supportive of NuGen, as a maturing and highly skilled nuclear organisation, and has remained firmly committed to new nuclear – stating that nuclear has a crucial role to play in securing our future energy needs, especially as we look to move to a low carbon society.”

NuGen says it will continue to progress plans to develop Europe’s largest new nuclear power station. The proposed Moorside plant will be capable of generating up to 3.8GW of low-carbon electricity – equivalent to seven per cent of the UK’s electricity requirements. Toshiba will seek to sell its stake to investors following a final investment decision on the project.

Mike Tynan, chief executive of the Nuclear AMRC, commented: “The proposed new nuclear power station at Moorside, comprising three Westinghouse AP1000 reactors, is a vital element in the replacement of our ageing nuclear fleet. I’m delighted that NuGen will press forward with this project. We at the Nuclear AMRC are committed to supporting NuGen and Westinghouse in their UK supply chain development activities.”

NuGen jackets

Metalcraft opens new box plant

Stainless Metalcraft has opened a new manufacturing facility to produce waste containers for Sellafield.

Metalcraft is one of the 10 companies on the Nuclear AMRC’s Civil Nuclear Sharing in Growth (CNSIG) programme. In May 2015, the Cambridgeshire-based company won an order from Sellafield Ltd, initially worth £47 million, to produce 3m3 stainless steel containers for intermediate-level waste from Sellafield’s pile fuel cladding silos.

Metalcraft has now completed the development of a new 1,600m2 production facility at its base in Chatteris, with potential to expand the site to 3,200m2 as demand increases.

Metalcraft facility

“The decommissioning of the UK’s nuclear legacy is a challenging task, and we’re delighted that Sellafield recognised the specialist skills that we offer here in the Fens,” said Metalcraft managing director Austen Adams. “Opening the new facility is a real landmark in delivering this important contract and was a significant challenge as construction works – including strengthening foundations to support the heavy machine tools required – had to go on alongside existing operations.”

Metalcraft has invested £2 million of capital expenditure in new tools and capabilities for the site. These include a robotic welder offering both plasma and MIG welding; two new machine tool cells; test and assembly cells incorporating vacuum, pressure and dimensional inspection facilities; and a specialist cavity mixing and filling cell.

Martin Chown, supply chain director at Sellafield, and Ron Gorham, head of supply chain optimisation at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), joined Adams to officially open the plant.

Metalcraft Chown Adams Gorham

“The three metre cubed boxes are an essential component of our decommissioning programme, and the team at Metalcraft has worked tirelessly to develop the site while also producing the first prototype boxes,” said Chown.

The opening followed Metalcraft’s success at the NDA Supply Chain Awards, presented at the NDA’s annual supply chain event in Manchester in early November, which recognised 100 years of apprenticeships at the company. Metalcraft has recruited 17 new apprentices since winning the Sellafield contract.

“The company’s commitment to the project was rightfully recognised at our Supply Chain Awards, when Metalcraft was awarded the prestigious Minister’s Award in recognition of its track record training engineers and aspiration to recruit up to 10 apprentices every year until at least 2020,” Gorham said.

“Their approach gives us confidence that we will have a manufacturer capable of supplying their products and equipment for high integrity, mission critical items well into the future, with the next generation of engineers trained and developed to the highest standards.”

 

 

Government gives go-ahead for Hinkley Point

The UK government has given the go-ahead for Hinkley Point C, the country’s first new nuclear power station for a generation.

The decision follows EDF’s investment decision in July. Following a review of the project, the government says it has reached an agreement in principle with EDF, and will impose a new legal framework for future foreign investment in nuclear power stations and other critical infrastructure.

Update: Final contracts were signed by Greg Clark, secretary of state for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy; Jean-Bernard Levy, chairman and CEO of EDF; and He Yu, chairman of CGN, on 29 September.

Mike Tynan, Nuclear AMRC chief executive officer, commented: “This is a landmark decision by British government and demonstrates a real commitment to the future of civil nuclear power in the UK.

“I very much welcome the government commitment to take a specific stakeholder interest in nuclear new build projects. I’m certain that this will provide additional confidence to project developers and maintain momentum on projects for new nuclear power stations on Anglesey in Wales, and in West Cumbria.

“The creation of thousands of jobs in the nuclear industry and its supply chain represents lasting economic value for the UK and is good news on both a regional and national basis. Our challenge now is to support project developers and their supply chains to ensure that these new power stations are built safely, and to time and cost. I very much look forward to electricity on the grid from EDF Hinkley Point C in the mid-2020s.”

The agreement in principle means that the UK government will be able to prevent the sale of EDF’s controlling stake prior to the completion of construction, without the prior notification and agreement of ministers. Existing legal powers, and the new legal framework, will mean that the government is able to intervene in the sale of EDF’s stake once Hinkley is operational.

The new legal framework for future foreign investment in British critical infrastructure means that, after Hinkley Point C, the UK government will take a special share in all future nuclear new build projects. This will ensure that significant stakes cannot be sold without the government’s knowledge or consent.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation will also be directed to require notice from developers or operators of nuclear sites of any change of ownership or part-ownership.

The government says these changes will bring Britain’s policy framework for the ownership and control of critical infrastructure into line with other major economies.

HPC

Background

The two Areva EPR reactors at Hinkley Point C (HPC) will strengthen EDF’s presence in the UK, where its subsidiary EDF Energy already operates 15 nuclear reactors and is the UK’s largest electricity supplier by volume. With a combined capacity of 3.2GW, the two HPC EPRs will provide around seven per cent of the UK’s electricity demand.

The first concrete at HPC is scheduled for mid-2019, coinciding with the scheduled start-up of the EPR at Flamanville at the end of 2018. EDF says the first HPC reactor will generate electricity from the mid-2020s.

EDF estimates the construction cost of Hinkley Point C at £18 billion. It expects UK companies to be awarded contracts worth more than 60 per cent of the project’s construction value.

Around £1.5 billion worth of contracts were provisionally placed with UK companies ahead of the final investment decision.

EDF has named seven top-tier preferred bidders to the project:

  • Bouygues TP/Laing O’Rourke – civil works.
  • Costain – marine work.
  • Alstom Energy (now part of GE) – turbines.
  • Areva – instrumentation & control, nuclear steam supply system, fuel.
  • Balfour Beatty Bailey – electrical work.
  • Cavendish Boccard Nuclear – mechanical pipework and installation.
  • Actan – HVAC.

Other preferred bidders include:

  • Rolls-Royce – heat exchangers, emergency diesel system.
  • Rolls-Royce/Nuvia – reactor coolant processing systems.
  • Weir – large pumps for cooling water.
  • Clyde Union (part of SPX Flow) – main pumps for feedwater system and cooling water system.
  • ABB UK – power transmission.
  • Ovivo – intake water filtration systems.
  • Laing O’Rourke – workers’ campus accommodation.
  • Premier Interlink WACO UK Ltd – temporary buildings.

EDF plans to work with China General Nuclear Corporation (CGN) to deliver Hinkley Point C, with CGN taking a 33.5 per cent investment share. The two groups have also proposed a collaboration to deploy EPRs at Sizewell C, Suffolk, and the Chinese Hualong HPR-1000 reactor at Bradwell, Essex.

EDF approves Hinkley Point C investment

EDF has confirmed it is ready to invest in two new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

EDF made its final investment decision (FID) at a meeting of directors on 28 July. Following the vote, the UK government announced that it is reviewing its support for the project and will make a decision in early autumn.

Mike Tynan, chief executive officer of the Nuclear AMRC, said: “The Nuclear AMRC welcomes the decision by EDF to move forward with its project at Hinkley Point C. This is a landmark decision for the UK civil nuclear industry and one that shows confidence in the UK’s ability to deliver a major infrastructure project for the civil nuclear industry.

“EDF has led the way in the drive for new nuclear power in the UK: it was the first through GDA, site licence, planning consents, and electricity price deals, and is now the first to FID. The Nuclear AMRC has supported EDF’s supplier development programmes in its journey for UK EPR deployment, and we will continue to provide every assistance to the Hinkley Point C project as it moves through construction, installation, testing, commissioning and commercial operation.

“The project at Hinkley Point in Somerset will create thousands of long-term jobs in the nuclear industry, engage a wide range of UK suppliers, and deliver much-needed replacement nuclear generating capacity for decades to come.”

HPC

Industry response

Nuclear Industry Association chief executive Tom Greatrex urged the government to make a quick decision on Hinkley Point. “The most important thing is that the board of EDF and its investors have the finance in place to enable them to give the go ahead for the project and that is very good news. We have a strong UK supply chain which has built up its capability and has trained people so they are able to build and operate Hinkley Point C,” Greatrex said.

Dame Sue Ion, chair of the UK’s Nuclear Innovation Research Advisory Board, said that the Hinkley Point C decision will increase investor confidence in the UK’s other proposed new build projects at Wylfa on Anglesey and Moorside in Cumbria. “It will stimulate the whole of the nuclear industry supply chain, reinvigorating advanced manufacturing in the UK and taking advantage of the investment made in entities like the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Rotherham,” she said.

The Somerset Chamber of Commerce, which has been working with local companies to prepare for work on the project, said the government delay would be frustrating for many businesses. “However, we were very much encouraged by the fact that EDF’s long-awaited final investment decision demonstrates a significant vote of confidence in the local, regional and national supply chain being ready, willing and able to deliver this major infrastructure project,” said chief executive Dale Edwards. “This is a huge opportunity and having a little more time for suppliers to ensure they are fully prepared is no bad thing, as well as potentially giving more local firms an opportunity to get involved in the supply chain activity.”

Background

The two Areva EPR reactors at Hinkley Point C (HPC) will strengthen EDF’s presence in the UK, where its subsidiary EDF Energy already operates 15 nuclear reactors and is the UK’s largest electricity supplier by volume. With a combined capacity of 3.2GW, the two HPC EPRs will provide around seven per cent of the UK’s electricity demand.

The first concrete at HPC is scheduled for mid-2019, coinciding with the scheduled start-up of the EPR at Flamanville at the end of 2018. EDF says the first HPC reactor will generate electricity from the mid-2020s.

EDF estimates the construction cost of Hinkley Point C at £18 billion. It expects UK companies to be awarded contracts worth more than 60 per cent of the project’s construction value.

Around £1.5 billion worth of contracts were provisionally placed with UK companies ahead of the final investment decision.

EDF has named seven top-tier preferred bidders to the project:

  • Bouygues TP/Laing O’Rourke (civil works).
  • Costain (marine work).
  • Alstom (turbines).
  • Areva (instrumentation & control, nuclear steam supply system, fuel).
  • Balfour Beatty Bailey (electrical work).
  • Cavendish Boccard Nuclear (mechanical pipework and installation).
  • Actan (HVAC).

Other preferred bidders include:

  • Rolls-Royce (heat exchangers).
  • Rolls-Royce/Nuvia (reactor coolant processing systems).
  • Weir (large pumps for cooling water).
  • Clyde Union (main pumps for feedwater system and cooling water system).
  • ABB UK (power transmission).
  • Ovivo (intake water filtration systems).
  • Laing O’Rourke (workers’ campus accommodation).
  • Premier Interlink WACO UK Ltd (temporary buildings).

EDF will work with China General Nuclear Corporation (CGN) to deliver Hinkley Point C, with CGN taking a 33.5 per cent investment share. The two groups also propose to collaborate on deploying EPRs at Sizewell C, Suffolk, and the Chinese Hualong HPR-1000 reactor at Bradwell, Essex.

Forgemasters and NuScale announce SMR collaboration

Sheffield Forgemasters and NuScale Power have announced a new partnership to develop manufacturing techniques for the future deployment of small modular reactors (SMRs) in the UK.

Forgemasters, a founding member of the Nuclear AMRC, will forge a large civil nuclear reactor vessel head based on NuScale’s design by the end of 2017. The work builds on an ongoing research project supported by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, to develop and validate innovative forging and fabrication solutions for the nuclear industry.

The £4 million project, funded under Innovate UK’s Energy Catalyst programme, has been running since June 2015. It is led by Sheffield Forgemasters, with partners including Rolls-Royce, The Welding Institute, the University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University and the Nuclear AMRC.

NuScale Power says it is now providing additional funding to support the use of its reactor vessel head geometry for the demonstration forging.

Speaking at a Northern Powerhouse conference in Manchester, NuScale managing director Tom Mundy said: “Our vision of seeing the NuScale SMR deployed in, and exported from, the UK can and will only be achieved in partnership with Britain’s renowned engineering and industrial base.

“Sheffield Forgemasters’ skill, expertise and heritage is known the world over. Working together now is, I hope, the starting point of a lasting relationship that will ultimately see UK-manufactured SMRs generating clean reliable power for the UK grid by the 2020s.”

Forgemasters has a long history in manufacturing large steel components for heavy engineering and nuclear power applications. It is the UK’s only large forgemaster, and a world leader in large-scale forged and cast components.

“Small modular reactors could revolutionise the civil nuclear power industry by creating more flexible power generation solutions,” said Forgemasters chief executive Graham Honeyman. “The efficient factory manufacture of major components will be crucial to seeing them deployed cost-effectively, and Sheffield Forgemasters has an unparalleled track record in the production of civil nuclear forgings of this size.

“NuScale’s design is one of the most advanced in the world and this forging project will allow us to prove yet again that UK manufacturing is at the leading edge of global technological advancement.”

NuScale is holding a supplier day at the Nuclear AMRC on 13 July to give UK-based engineering, manufacturing and construction companies the opportunity to learn about the company’s programme of work. NuScale is also participating in the UK government’s competition to identify the best-value SMR for UK development.

NuScale’s Power Module is a 50MWe pressurised water reactor and generator, designed to be deployed in clusters of up to 12 per site. The combined containment vessel and reactor system measures around 25 metres in length by five metres diameter, small enough to be transported by a single lorry, and features state-of-the-art passive safety systems.

UK launches SMR competition

The UK government has launched a competition to identify the best-value small modular reactor design for the country.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) released full details of the competition’s first phase, following confirmation in the 2016 Budget of the government’s interest in building one of the world’s first SMRs in the UK.

budget2016

The competition will consider designs which can generate up to 300MW of electricity. The first phase aims to gauge market interest among technology developers, utilities, potential investors and funders in developing, commercialising and financing SMRs in the UK.

To qualify, SMR designs must be able to achieve in-factory production of modular components or systems amounting to a minimum of 40 per cent of the total plant cost. This will present significant opportunities to exploit advanced manufacturing technologies to reduce cost and project risk.

DECC emphasises that SMRs should be seen as a potential complement to the UK’s current large-scale nuclear new build programme. The department will publish an SMR roadmap in the autumn, which will summarise the evidence so far, set out the policy framework, and assess the potential for SMR development in the UK.

The Budget also included an allocation of at least £30 million for an SMR-enabling advanced manufacturing R&D programme to develop nuclear skills capacity. “This will create opportunities for the North’s centres of excellence in nuclear research, such as the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and the Sir Henry Royce Institute,” the statement noted.

Mike Tynan, chief executive of the Nuclear AMRC, commented: “Chancellor George Osborne has already demonstrated a commitment to small modular nuclear reactors and it’s good to see the continued momentum with this technology as part of a balanced energy portfolio for the UK.

“The new nuclear build projects at Hinkley Point in Somerset, Wylfa in North Wales, and Moorside in West Cumbria have not yet received final investment decisions from their respective owners. If current studies indicate that they are economic and affordable, small modular reactors could be a potential supplement to the existing projects and could play a vital role in the UK energy market.

“The development of a UK small modular reactor would provide us with the opportunity to build on the UK’s proud heritage in the civil nuclear industry and to harness our world leading capability in advanced manufacturing. Small modular reactors could put UK technology development on the fast track and position UK manufacturers for valuable research partnerships and create a strong likelihood of securing volume export business. We would be making real progress to securing our energy future and make a real contribution to a sustainable low carbon economy in the UK.”

The Nuclear AMRC is already working with a number of SMR developers which have expressed an interest in working with the UK government. In November 2014, the centre signed an agreement with NuScale to work together on the development of the US group’s Power Module design. The Nuclear AMRC is also currently working with Westinghouse to explore the most effective way to manufacture reactor pressure vessels for Westinghouse’s SMR in the UK.

 

Manufacturers hail F4N impact

A survey of participating manufacturers has shown the impact the Fit For Nuclear programme is having in the UK supply chain.

Seventy per cent of respondents say they have increased confidence in entering the nuclear market, and half say they already have a better understanding of buyer requirements. As one respondent put it: “It has helped to remove the fear of the nuclear industry.”

Fit For Nuclear (F4N) was launched five years ago by the Nuclear AMRC and industry partners to help manufacturers prepare to bid for work in the civil nuclear supply chain. F4N is a unique service which lets companies measure their operations against the standards required to supply the nuclear industry, and provides structured support to help companies close any gaps.

Over 250 companies which had reached the ‘on-site review’ stage in their F4N journey by January 2016 were invited to complete the survey, with more than half responding. The survey was carried out by the Manufacturing Advisory Service, which has worked with the Nuclear AMRC on an enhanced F4N programme over the past 18 months.

“It’s very encouraging to read the overwhelmingly positive comments from companies at all stages of their F4N journey,” says Mike Tynan, chief executive officer of the Nuclear AMRC.

“The response shows that UK manufacturers are certainly keen to get involved with the nuclear sector, have the capabilities to compete, and are prepared to take the steps necessary to meet the industry’s justifiably stringent quality requirements – but many are still crying out for focused support and guidance to help them better understand the specific opportunities and requirements of the market.

“Supplier development programmes such as F4N provide focus and improvement planning for participating organisations, and the benefit of this work – as demonstrated in the results of this survey – should not be underestimated.”

The current enhanced phase of the F4N programme, supported by the Regional Growth Fund, comes to an end in June. Over the past year, F4N has offered match funding worth an average of £10,000 to help companies put business and manufacturing improvement projects into action. More than 110 projects have been funded, with participating companies reporting that the funding will help create over £48 million of added value in their businesses and over 550 jobs.

Download the full impact survey report.

F4N survey cover

Quotes from manufacturers about F4N:

  • “A fabulous experience which has moved our business immeasurably beyond any other programme we have undertaken.” – Craig Naylor, NTR Ltd.
  • “There are massive opportunities for many British based companies – but training and awareness of such opportunities is critical. F4N is ideally placed to provide this.” – Phil Harmer, Al-Met Ltd.
  • “Excellent programme – even if we unable to gain entry into the nuclear sector, the benefits to the company of working through the action plan and training will improve the running of the company in all areas.” – Chris Steele, WKW Precision Engineering.
  • “It has helped to remove the fear of the nuclear industry.” – Kevin Wheeler, WES Ltd.

The economic case for SMRs

In his autumn statement and spending review, chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne announced new funding to develop small modular reactors in the UK. Mike Tynan, Nuclear AMRC chief executive, explores the economic case for SMRs.

NuScale plant

There’s been a lot of talk about small modular reactors (SMRs) recently. Proponents say that SMRs present the UK with the opportunity to regain a global lead in reactor technology, while meeting the country’s need for affordable and secure low-carbon electricity.

But why would a small nuclear reactor be any more efficient or economic to build and operate than a reactor 10 or 20 times its size? The answer is that it’s not necessarily more efficient – however, it is much more affordable.

The global reactor vendors have focused on developing and building very large output nuclear reactors. Each has its own branded technology – Areva’s EPR, Westinghouse’s AP1000 and GE’s ESBWR – all varieties of light water reactor generating between 1100 and 1700 megawatt. The premise is the bigger the better, particularly for markets like the UK where nuclear forms part of baseload generation.

The case for economies of scale was partly based on a high initial capital cost followed by 60 years of low operating costs, providing excellent revenue streams with good return on a safe investment. Reality for the large reactors has not proved so simple. Initial capital costs are significantly higher than originally expected, and the cost of financing such a multi-billion pound investment can be prohibitive. This severely impacts the business model for large units – witness the difficulties in attracting investors for Hinkley Point C.

To compare electricity prices between technologies, we need to calculate a levelised cost of electricity (LCOE). The current wholesale price of electricity in the UK is around £45 per megawatt hour, while the agreed price for electricity from the planned new nuclear station at Hinkley Point C is £92.50/MWh. This price is driven, in large part, by the expense of financing the project. Many have argued that this strike price is too expensive, and it is higher than originally expected. However, it is in line with the estimated full cost of new gas generation by 2025 – £85-95/MWh, according to the UK’s independent Committee on Climate Change.

SMR developers claim that their LCOE could be in the region of current electricity market prices, thanks largely to the much lower capital cost. Realistically, I expect that cost to be in the region of £60-75/MWh, but anything lower will be a real bonus. In an assessment of SMRs led by the National Nuclear Laboratory and published in December 2014, the best estimate was in excess of £80/MWh – not hugely different from the strike price for the EPR at Hinkley Point.

So what would make SMRs more affordable than the gigawatt-scale reactors? It all comes down to how we make them. Because SMRs will be built in relatively high volumes in factory conditions, there are a number of very practical steps that would significantly reduce their capital cost. These include modular construction of the reactor unit; modularisation of concrete infrastructure; design for manufacturing; and the use of advanced production processes such as electron beam welding and hot isostatic pressing.

Significantly reducing SMR production costs is eminently achievable – but it’s no less important to ensure a strong route to market at home and abroad, and a UK supply chain that delivers high-value sustainable jobs in the long term. To achieve the best economic value for the UK, technology vendors will need to create UK entities that deliver indigenous intellectual property. It is this issue, rather than the technology itself, that will stir UK government and industry into action on SMRs.

The Nuclear AMRC is working with the principal SMR technology vendors in support of their drive for a UK SMR. We have the technology, expertise and experience to de-risk SMR programmes, support design for manufacturing, develop innovative solutions for SMR manufacture and deliver high-value complex components, large and small. We are also working with the UK civil nuclear supply chain to ensure that UK suppliers can deliver competitive products and services for SMR technology vendors.

Chinese investor confirms Hinkley Point support

Chinese investors have confirmed details of their support for EDF Energy’s proposed new nuclear power stations.

HPC

China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) will invest £6 billion for a 33.5 per cent stake in the Hinkley Point C project.

EDF retains the remaining 66.5 per cent of the project. The French group said it intends to bring other investors into the project, but will retain a majority stake.

The strategic investment agreement was signed in the presence of Chinese president Xi Jinping and UK prime minister David Cameron.

Andrew Storer, managing director of the Nuclear AMRC, commented: “This is great news for the nuclear industry. We need Hinkley Point to move forwards to help kickstart the UK’s new build programme across a range of potential developers and technologies. This announcement is a really important step in the process of launching the Hinkley Point project, and a fantastic achievement for the EDF team.

“The new build programme will create a great stimulus and help secure skills and capability across our industry, not just in new build.

“It’s been a long time coming, but the supply chain has been using the time to get ready for Hinkley Point and the other potential projects. We now need to see a final investment decision that enables further contracts to be placed, and the work we’ve been doing with the supply chain to be put into action.”

The Nuclear AMRC works with UK manufacturers along the supply chain to help them become more competitive, including focused supplier development support through the Fit For Nuclear and Civil Nuclear Sharing in Growth programmes. Over 60 per cent of the Hinkley Point project value will be spent in the UK, EDF says.

EDF proposes to build two Areva EPRs at Hinkley Point, with the first planned to be operational in 2025. EDF chairman Jean-Bernard Lévy said the group was “planning for a final investment decision within weeks”.

The strategic investment agreement also paves the way for CGN to take a 20 per cent stake of EDF’s proposed development of two EPRs at Sizewell, and 66.5 per cent of a new collaborative project to develop two Chinese HPR1000 Hualong reactors at Bradwell, Essex.

EDF and CGN have worked together for around 30 years, and are currently collaborating on two EPRs at Taishan, China.