Latest training center for Hinkley Point C opens

May 9, 2022, 9:31AMNuclear News
U.K. energy minister Greg Hands cuts the ribbon on the Welding Centre of Excellence at Bridgwater & Taunton College’s campus. (Photo: EDF Energy)

The United Kingdom’s energy minister, Greg Hands, recently presided over the opening of one of three new training centers in England aimed at supporting EDF Energy’s Hinkley Point C nuclear build project in Somerset. The centers, according to EDF, will provide locals with the skills necessary to join the ranks of about 4,000 additional workers expected to be needed for the next phase of the power station’s construction. Hands unveiled the Welding Centre of Excellence, located on the Bridgwater & Taunton College campus in Bridgwater.

U.K. energy strategy calls for up to eight new reactors

April 11, 2022, 6:52AMNuclear News

The U.K. government has released a new energy strategy aimed at boosting Britain’s energy independence, stabilizing its soaring energy prices, and accelerating the deployment of new nuclear, wind, solar, and hydrogen to mitigate climate change.

At the same time, the 38-page document, British Energy Security Strategy, calls for near-term support for domestic oil and gas, stating, “Net zero is a smooth transition, not an immediate extinction, for oil and gas.” (The United Kingdom in 2019 became the first of the world’s major economies to embrace a legal obligation to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.)

Following through with this strategy, the government says, could result in low-carbon sources generating up to 95 percent of British electricity by 2030.

Regulator gives green light to next phase of Hinkley Point C construction

February 9, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
The first steel ring section of the Unit 2 reactor building was installed in November 2021. (Photo: EDF Energy)

The United Kingdom’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has granted permission for the start of bulk mechanical, electrical, and HVAC component installation work at the Hinkley Point C site in Somerset, England, where two 1,630-MWe EPRs are under construction. Thus far, most of the activity at Hinkley Point C has been in the field of civil construction.

This new phase, according to ONR, will require a workforce of up to 4,000 during peak times, including welders, pipe fitters, and electricians. The work is to be accomplished over a three-year period, with NNB Genco—the EDF Energy subsidiary set up in 2009 to build and operate Hinkley Point C—teaming up with four suppliers: Balfour Beatty Bailey, Doosan, Cavendish, and Altrad.

First Hunterston reactor shuttered

December 3, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
The Hunterston B nuclear power station in 2018. (Photo: Thomas Nugent/CC BY-SA 2.0)

Unit B1 at Scotland’s two-unit Hunterston B nuclear power plant was taken off line for good on November 26 after nearly 46 years of operation. A 490-MWe advanced gas-cooled reactor, the unit entered commercial operation in June 1976. Its companion AGR, Unit B2, which entered operation in March 1977, is scheduled for retirement in January.

Study: New U.K. nuclear likely to be lower carbon source than solar or wind

November 30, 2021, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

A recent study of life cycle carbon emissions at the United Kingdom’s Hinkley Point C nuclear plant finds that the facility, now under construction in Somerset, England, is likely to produce less CO2 over its lifetime than either solar or wind power.

According to the 70-page analysis—prepared by environmental consultancy Ricardo Energy & Environment for NNB Generation Company HPC Limited, the holding company for the Hinkley Point project—lifetime emissions from Hinkley Point C are likely to be about 5.5g CO2e per kWh. That amount also holds for the proposed Sizewell C plant, the study concludes. (The two 1,630-MWe EPRs at Hinkley Point C are currently scheduled to begin commercial operation in 2026 and 2027.)

Wales inks deal with Sizewell C group

February 8, 2021, 2:59PMNuclear News

The outlook for new nuclear construction in Wales may have taken a bleak turn, but that hasn’t stopped the Welsh government from seeking other opportunities for its nuclear industry. On February 5, the government announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Sizewell C Consortium, an organization of nearly 200 businesses and trade unions from the United Kingdom's nuclear supply chain focused on ensuring that the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power station in Suffolk, England, actually gets built.

The consortium includes the firms Atkins, Balfour Beatty Bailey, Cavendish Nuclear, Doosan Babcock, EDF, Laing O’Rourke, and Mott MacDonald, as well as the unions GMB, Unite, and Prospect.

A big deal: According to the announcement, in the event that the Sizewell C project is approved, the MOU could potentially see an investment of up to £900 million (about $1.2 billion) in the Welsh nuclear supply chain and up to 4,700 jobs supported across Wales. The signatories also view the agreement as a way to help retain the Welsh nuclear skills base.

Delay, cost increase announced for U.K. nuclear project

January 27, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News

Perspex screens and reduced seating capacity in the Hinkley Point canteens help protect the workforce during breaks, EDF Energy said. Photo: EDF Energy

The unfortunate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on nuclear new-build projects haven’t stopped with Vogtle: EDF Energy this morning reported that the expected startup date for Unit 1 at its Hinkley Point C site is being pushed from late 2025 to June 2026.

In addition, the project’s completion costs are now estimated to be in the range of £22 billion to £23 billion (about $30.2 billion to $31.5 billion), some £500 million (about $686 million) more than the 2019 estimate, EDF said, adding the caveat that these revisions assume an ability to begin a return to normal site conditions by the second quarter of 2021.

Hinkley Point B to be retired earlier than planned

November 30, 2020, 9:30AMNuclear News

Hinkley Point B, in Somerset, England. Photo: EDF Energy

EDF Energy has made a “proactive decision” to move Britain’s Hinkley Point B power station into its defueling phase no later than July 15, 2022—some eight months earlier than previously scheduled—the company announced on November 19.

The two-unit plant, located in Somerset, England, began generating electricity in 1976 and has since produced more than 300 TWh of power, enough to meet the electricity requirements of every home in the United Kingdom for three years, according to EDF.

BBC: U.K. government may be close to greenlighting Sizewell C

November 3, 2020, 3:03PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Artist’s rendering of the Sizewell site, with Sizewell C at right. Image: EDF Energy

A BBC News story from late last week states that the U.K. government “is close to giving the green light” to EDF Energy’s proposed Sizewell C nuclear new build project in Suffolk, adding that details surrounding the project’s financing “are still being hammered out.”

The Sizewell C station, consisting of twin European pressurized reactors (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.

U.K. trade group debuts blueprint for lowering nuclear construction costs

September 3, 2020, 9:29AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Industry Association (NIA), the trade group for the United Kingdom’s civil nuclear industry, unveiled a new report yesterday that sets out a framework for cutting the cost of building new nuclear power plants in Britain.

The 27-page report, Nuclear Sector Deal: Nuclear New Build Cost Reduction, is available online.

ONR: Improvement needed at Heysham 1

June 16, 2020, 11:06AMNuclear News

The United Kingdom’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) issued an improvement notice to EDF Energy Nuclear Generation Ltd. earlier this month for a problem involving the pressure systems safety regulations (PSSR) at the two-unit Heysham 1 nuclear power station. The notice was served following an inspection of the Unit 1 pressure vessel at the Lancashire site.