The United Kingdom’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) on June 30 received a nuclear site license application from EDF Energy subsidiary NNB Generation Company (SZC) Limited to construct and operate two reactors at the Sizewell site in the county of Suffolk, northeast of London.
The previous week, on June 24, Britain’s Planning Inspectorate accepted a development consent order application for the nuclear build project. The DCO application had been received on May 27, after being deferred for two months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The proposed Sizewell C station, consisting of twin EPRs, would be built next to Sizewell B, a 1,198-MWe pressurized water reactor that began operation in 1995. (The Sizewell site also houses Sizewell A, a 290-MWe Magnox gas-cooled reactor, but that unit was permanently shuttered in 2006.) Sizewell C would be a near copy of the two-unit Hinkley Point C station, currently under construction in Somerset.
According to an ONR news release, the nuclear regulator will assess the suitability of the Suffolk site to host Sizewell C, as well as the design of the proposed development. This process includes an assessment of how the plant will withstand extreme weather and external hazards, including seismic events and coastal flood hazards, the ONR stated.
What they’re saying: “While we are satisfied that the application is sufficiently complete to proceed to assessment stage, there is still a lot of work to do—and we do not expect to reach a decision until at least the end of 2021,” said Shane Turner, the ONR’s head of EPR regulation. “The assessment of a site license is a significant step, but is not itself permission to start nuclear-related construction. That requires separate regulatory permission from ONR.”
Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, Sizewell C’s managing director, described the receipt of the application as “another significant step forward for Sizewell C,” adding that the ONR “holds the nuclear industry to account on behalf of the public, and we welcome the robust scrutiny of our plans. We know the regulator will only award a nuclear site license once it is satisfied that the power station will be safe throughout its entire lifecycle, including decommissioning, site clearance, and remediation.”
Next step: If Sizewell C is approved, a financial investment decision to build the power station could be taken at the end of 2021 or early 2022, with construction commencing soon afterward, according to EDF. Expected to operate for 60 years, Sizewell C would generate enough low-carbon power for six million homes and it would save nine million tons of CO2 for every year of operation, EDF stated. Further, the company estimates that Sizewell C would create 25,000 job opportunities during its 10-year construction period and 900 skilled jobs once its operational.
The license application for Sizewell C can be found here.