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Many hurdles to jump before Bradwell nuclear station starts construction. Meanwhile renewables race ahead

Nuclear Engineering International 29th April 2021. JUST BEFORE THE TURN OF the year, on 18 December, UK energy regulator Ofgem granted an electricity generation licence to Bradwell Power Generation Co
Ltd. The company is planning to build a new nuclear station at Bradwell on
the UK’s Essex coast, near where one of the country’s first nuclear
stations is in a ‘care and maintenance’ decommissioning phase.

The licence was welcomed by Bradwell Power Generation chief executive Alan
Raymant, who called it, “an important milestone on the journey to
completing the Bradwell B project and demonstrates our continued

But what may sound like the culmination of a process is in
fact an early step, and Raymant admitted, “The generating licence is one
of many licences and permits we will need in order to develop, construct
and operate Bradwell B”.

Support for the Bradwell project is mixed. The
UK government generally acts on the assumption that nuclear will continue
to supply around a fifth of electricity supply, as it has over the last two
decades. But that is largely because it was thought that replacing this
large tranche of zero-carbon power with renewables sources was too

The scale of the renewables roll-out has put that assumption
under pressure in some quarters. The GDA process has been under way since
January 2017 and in February 2020 it reached step four, the final step,
which ONR describes as “Successful completion of the high-level technical
assessment of the design”. ONR estimates that step 4 will be completed by
the start of 2022. As part of this process, in January the Environment
Agency opened a consultation on its assessment of the design.

The EA’s role is to regulate “specific environmental matters at nuclear sites in
England by issuing environmental permits to cover site preparation,
construction, operation and decommissioning”. EA provides a statement
about a design’s acceptability at the end of the GDA. During the GDA, it
works by identifying concerns.

So-called ‘GDA Issues’ are significant,
but resolvable, and must be resolved before construction of the reactor
starts and before GDA can be completed. ‘Assessment Findings’ are
matters best resolved at the site- specific stage. In a consultation now
under way EA has listed six potential GDA Issues and 40 Assessment

The GDA Issues are: While operational experience is used to
support safety case documentation, the Environment Agency and ONR have
noted that it is not used consistently across the project. The Requesting
Party has not addressed a Regulatory Observation about this. The Requesting
Party has shown that it has considered the environmental aspects of the
station design. However, it still has to demonstrate that it has adequately
considered the safety aspects of the design.

Where safety aspects are still
under review the Requesting Party must ensure that environmental protection
is given appropriate consideration. The Requesting Party has proposed using
rectangular filters in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning
system. It must demonstrate that these are equivalent or better than
cylindrical types, which are considered best practice in the UK.

ONR/EA have not yet received design requirements for the spent fuel, which define
the specifications for an interim store which will be used before the fuel
is disposed of in a geological disposal facility. The Requesting Party has
yet to confirm its strategy for disposing of the in-core instrument
assemblies and that this will not affect disposal of the waste in-core
instrument assemblies.

The Requesting Party has still to get advice from
Radioactive Waste Management Ltd on whether the higher activity waste from
the UK HPR1000 will be able to be disposed of in the latter’s planned
geological disposal facility. No date for submission of the final
application to the Planning Inspectorate have been published by Bradwell
Power Generation, but it is likely to be after 2022.

May 1, 2021 - Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK

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