Moves to bolster the UK’s nuclear power energy infrastructure have taken a leap forward, as regulators have cleared a new project based in Wales to go ahead after five years of deliberation on regulation.
Three different regulatory bodies, including the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) said that they were satisfied that the design for the Japanese-American reactor met their “expectations on safety, security and environmental protection”.
Mark Foy, who is the ONR’s chief nuclear inspector said: “The completion of the generic design assessment of the UK ABWR is a significant step in our regulation of the overall process to construct this type of reactor in the UK, ensuring that the generic design meets the highest standards of safety that we expect in this country.”
Horizon Nuclear Power is now cleared to apply for planning permission to build a power plant based around the Hitachi-GE boiling water reactor at Wylfa Newydd in 2018, as part of a project that is estimated to cost £12bn. If this proves a success, then Horizon hopes this will allow them to build another new nuclear power station at Oldbury-on-Severn in Gloucestershire in the near future.
Duncan Hawthorne, the CEO of Horizon, said: “This is a huge milestone for Horizon and a major leap forward for us in bringing much-needed new nuclear power to the UK. Nuclear can deliver high volumes of stable low carbon energy, which makes it a vital part of the country’s electricity mix and once up and running, both Wylfa Newydd and our Oldbury site will supply clean, reliable power to the UK for decades to come.”
The proposed Wylfa plant is based on the UK’s oldest nuclear site, which was shut down two years ago. It would capable of producing 2.7GW of power.
£2bn has already been contributed to the development by Hitachi, however, they claimed a week before the regulatory approval emerged that they would need additional financial support by the middle of 2018, or would have to stop funding development. In what would be an unprecedented move by the government, following a visit made to Japan by UK ministers in December last year, it emerged that Japan and the UK were considering co-operating and co-financing the Wylfa power plant using public funds.
Albert Owen the MP for Ynys Môn welcomed the decision to go ahead with the proposed plans. He called the approval of the reactor design a “significant milestone” and said that he was pleased it has “met the very high standards of safety required by UK regulators”.