Taishan-1 EPR resumes operation a year after shutting down over reactor damage fears

August 25, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
The Taishan nuclear power plant in China. (Photo: CGN)

China’s Taishan-1, which was shut down last summer due to damaged fuel rods, resumed operations on August 15.

The plant briefly made headlines last summer—as much for the damage inside the reactor as for the media fallout. In June 2020, plant operators found damage to the cladding on about five of the 60,000 fuel rods in Taishan-1, one of the plant’s two 1,660-MW EPRs. What happened next seemed like a bad game of “telephone.”

U.K.’s Hinkley Point B retired

August 5, 2022, 9:26AMNuclear News
EDF Energy’s Hinkley Point B nuclear power station, in Somerset, England. (Photo: EDF Energy)

By all accounts the most productive nuclear power plant in British history, Somerset’s Hinkley Point B station closed for good on August 1, with the shutdown of its B1 unit, a 485-MWe advanced gas-cooled reactor. (The plant’s B2 unit, a 480-MWe AGR, was shuttered early last month.)

The station employed around 500 staff and 250 contractors and contributed approximately £40 million (about $48.7 million) per year to the Somerset economy, according to EDF Energy, owner and operator of the United Kingdom’s power reactor fleet.

U.K. greenlights Sizewell C project

July 21, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
A computer-generated rendering of the Sizewell site on the Suffolk coast. Sizewell A and B are to the left and center (respectively) in this image; the section to the right is the Sizewell C area. (Image: EDF Energy)

The U.K. government has granted a development consent order (DCO) for EDF Energy’s proposed Sizewell C plant near Leiston in Suffolk, moving the new nuclear build project closer to a reality.

Nuclear New Build (NBB) Generation Company, an EDF Energy subsidiary, submitted the DCO application to the government’s Planning Inspectorate in May 2020, setting out the range of measures the project would implement to mitigate construction effects and maximize community benefits. The Planning Inspectorate accepted the application in June 2020 and completed its examination in October 2021. Recommendations were made to the secretary of state for business, energy, and industrial strategy this February.

Nuclear development in the West needs new, better financing models

June 30, 2022, 12:03PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The prospects for new nuclear energy construction in the Western world is the subject of a recent The Economist article, “Energy security gives climate-friendly nuclear-power plants a new appeal.” The article also explores the difficulties that EDF Energy has been experiencing in constructing its EPRs in Europe.

U.K.’s Hinkley Point C hit with further delay

May 26, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
Hinkley Point C’s Unit 2, in March of this year. (Photo: EDF Energy)

The target date for the start of electricity generation at Hinkley Point C’s Unit 1 reactor has been moved back to June 2027, following the completion of a schedule and cost review of the new nuclear build project, EDF announced last week.

While the review considered the main aspects of the project to construct two 1,630-MWe EPRs in Somerset, England, the schedule and cost of electromechanical works and of final testing were not examined, according to the utility.

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.

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.

U.K. government lauds progress at Hinkley Point C

January 19, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
From left: Nigel Cann, delivery director at Hinkley Point C, Helen Whately MP, Kwasi Kwarteng MP, and Jean-Bernard Lévy, chairman and chief executive officer of EDF. (Photo: EDF)

Despite last year’s announcement from EDF Energy that the startup of Unit 1 at Hinkley Point C would likely be delayed (from late 2025 to June 2026), current progress at the site is receiving praise from the U.K. government.

On January 13, Kwasi Kwarteng, secretary of state for business, energy, and industrial strategy, and Helen Whately, exchequer secretary of the treasury, toured the nuclear new-build project, accompanied by Jean Bernard Lévy, EDF’s chairman and chief executive.

New U.K. finance model expected to cut cost of new nuclear

October 28, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

A new funding model has been introduced by the U.K. government to attract a wider range of private investment into new nuclear power projects, cutting the cost of financing them and reducing the cost to consumers.

The Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill, announced by the government on October 26, will use a model known as the Regulated Asset Base (RAB) to fund future nuclear power plants in Britain. The model is tried and tested, according to the government, and has successfully financed other infrastructure projects, such as the U.K.’s Thames Tideway Tunnel and Heathrow Terminal 5.

Learn more about the RAB model.

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.

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.