The UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has requested a long series of safety improvements to the proposed design of the Chinese HPR1000 (‘Hualong’) reactor proposed to be built at Bradwell in Essex. Previous experience suggests this could presage a big increase in costs for the plant which is likely to cost a lot more than similar plant built in China. The HPR100 design is based on one being built in China at by China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN). CGN will own around two-thirds of the project, with EDF owning the remaining share. In a judgement issued last month the ONR rapped the CGN/EDF developers for the ‘slow’ development of the safety case and said that their ‘response revealed a number of potential shortfalls related to the status of the safety case planning and arrangements (including organisational)’. Most tellingly, the ONR has given the developers a large number of ‘follow-up’ points to which they need to adequately respond before they can be given the go ahead after the later stages in the ‘generic design assessment’ (GDA) process run by the ONR. Although the ONR has stressed that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the developer’s proposals, the evidence is that the sheer extent of ‘follow up’ point materials must severely question any financial estimates of the plant’s costs that have been based on the plant being built in China. This is the ‘Fanggchengang 3’ power plant being built in South China. This conclusion is based partly on the experience of the last GDA process which involved the approval of Hitachi’s ABWR plant which is earmarked for development in Wylfa. The construction of the Wylfa ABWR plant is now doubtful following reports that Hitachi cannot find investors. This failure has been ascribed, at least in part, to extensive cost increases racked up as a result of safety improvements needed for the plant. The cost of building the plant increased by more than a third after the ONR’s GDA was completed in 2017.
Dave Toke’s Blog 16th Dec 2018 read more »