Schneider Electric selected for Hinkley nuclear project

CGI view of Hinkley Point C power station. Image: EDF Energy
CGI view of Hinkley Point C power station. Image: EDF Energy

Schneider Electric has been selected as the preferred bidder for a supply contract for Hinkley Point C.

EDF Energy has picked the company to supply its medium voltage switchgear range to ensure safe operations and reliable energy management at the nuclear power plant.

In September, EDF announced two preferred bidders for contracts worth £100 million to UK manufacturers.

It estimates that contracts worth more than 60% of the construction costs for the nuclear station will be placed with UK firms.

The government is investing £2 billion in the project and China £6 billion.

EDF expects 25,000 jobs to be created during construction.

Tanuja Randery, President at Schneider Electric UK & Ireland said: “Schneider Electric is committed to enabling the UK to achieve a cleaner energy mix and our partnership with EDF Energy is another step towards this goal. We have a long-standing relationship with EDF and are proud to support the investment in the power station at Hinkley Point, with our knowledge and experience serving the worldwide nuclear market for over 30 years.”

Chancellor George Osborne announced the government will double spending on energy research, with a “major commitment” to small modular nuclear reactors as part of the Spending Review

Source: Energy Live News

UK sets aside funds for ‘ambitious’ nuclear research and development program

The UK will invest at least £250 million ($377 million) over the next five years in an “ambitious” nuclear research and development program, according to the Conservative Party-led government’s Spending Review and Autumn Statement published yesterday. British Chancellor George Osborne’s ‘Comprehensive Spending Review’ says this program will “revive the UK’s nuclear expertise” and position the country as “a global leader in innovative nuclear technologies”.


Funding for this program is included in the “settlement” for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

“The government’s doubling of investment in DECC’s innovation program will help position the UK as an international leader in small modular nuclear reactors, and deliver commitments on seed funding for promising new renewable energy technologies and smart grids,” according to the Review.

The move is part of government plans to “prioritize energy security, whilst making reforms to meet our climate goals at lower cost”.

This will include a competition to identify the best value small modular reactor (SMR) design for the UK, paving the way towards building one of the world’s first SMRs in the country in the 2020s. Detailed plans for the competition will be brought forward early next year.

To help back science-based and innovative companies in the north of England, the government is providing the £250 million for SMR development and wider nuclear R&D, creating opportunities for the North’s centres of nuclear excellence in Sheffield City Region, Greater Manchester and Cumbria, as well as the nuclear research base across the UK. This builds on £25 million ($38 million) of UK funding for a Joint Research and Innovation Centre with China, to be based in the North West, which was announced by the Chancellor on his recent visit to Beijing and which the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) will lead for the UK.

This is on top of a total of more than £375 million ($566 million) over this Parliament – 2015-2020 – for dedicated science and innovation facilities in the North, according to the Review.

The launch of the investment package for SMR development and nuclear R&D is listed among “key project starts” for 2015-2016 and 2016-2017. Among “key project completions” in 2019-2020 is the development in extending the capabilities of the National Nuclear Users Facility (NNUF), which is part of the government’s Nuclear Industrial Strategy announced in 2013. The aim of the NNUF is to provide greater accessibility to world leading technologies as a collaborative effort from four complimentary hubs within the UK – the Central Laboratory of NNL, the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, the Dalton Cumbrian Facility (part of The University of Manchester) and the University of Lancaster.

In addition, the Review states that a new National College for Nuclear will be based in Somerset, subject to due diligence.

The government will also provide more than £11 billion ($17 billion) for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) “to continue its vital work cleaning up historic nuclear sites”. This includes “making significant progress” on the legacy ponds and silos at Sellafield.

In 2016-2017 and 2019-2020 the government expects to save more than £1 billion ($1.5 billion) by making efficiencies and savings in the NDA through “better value” contracts; “top class” commercial procurement; delaying “non-safety-critical” projects; and cancelling a project that is no longer needed due to a “world-first breakthrough” in nuclear decommissioning research.

DECC will deliver £220 million ($332 million) of resource savings by 2019-2020 through efficiencies from “pooling back” office and corporate services, and reducing the costs of contracts to manage the country’s historic coal and nuclear liabilities, according to the Review.

The Autumn Statement – at times the Summer Statement (1993–1996) and the Pre-Budget Report (1997–2009) – is one of the two statements HM Treasury makes each year to Parliament upon publication of economic forecasts, the other being the annual Budget. Osborne replaced the PBR and its policy announcements in 2010 with a new Autumn Statement focusing on economic growth and government finances as projected by the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR). Osborne’s 2015 statement is a joint Autumn Statement and Spending Review – a Comprehensive Spending Review – and includes a new forecast by the OBR.

Industry welcomes R&D funding

NNL welcomed the announcement of £250 million in funding for a nuclear R&D program.

In a statement yesterday, its managing director, Paul Howarth, said: “I’m delighted by the news that the Government has recognised the vital importance of a UK nuclear R&D program to help return Britain to the global ‘top table’ of nuclear countries. This is the culmination of several years’ work which began with the detailed assessment of the state of nuclear R&D carried out by the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee in 2011. Since that time, NNL has been at the forefront of the call for the establishment of a national nuclear research program and we are pleased that Government has today responded so positively to that advice. We now anticipate that NNL will play a central role in the delivery of the newly-announced program.”

Plans for an SMR in the UK in the 2020s follows the publication, in December 2014, of a feasibility report by a consortium led by NNL into the potential impact of SMR technology on the UK energy sector and the UK nuclear supply chain.

Since July 2008, NNL has been providing independent advice to the government and working with other national laboratories around the world, and delivering research and technology to support the nuclear fuel cycle.

In its initial response to the Comprehensive Spending Review, the UK’s Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) said it welcomed the government’s commitment to the nuclear sector and its additional funding for nuclear R&D, including the development of SMRs.

But the civilian nuclear industry trade association urged the government “to adopt a strategic approach to departmental spending cuts, which balanced the need for immediate cost savings with the longer term interests of the country”.

Maintaining the budget for the work of the NDA “will deliver value for the taxpayer through a progressive program of work, rather than by a stop/start approach, which significant cuts to the budget could have resulted in”, the NIA said.

However, it has raised concern that no funding was allocated to develop a reuse option for the UK’s plutonium stockpile. It said that “now is the time for the Government to put firm plans in place for dealing with this valuable asset”. It added: “Industry wants to see a timetable agreed to identify and deliver the preferred technology-led solution, with enough time for a cross-party consensus to be developed.”

Keith Parker, NIA chief executive, said the association had asked for a review which balanced short-term need with long-term gain. “Our call for an increase to nuclear R&D to protect the future of the industry, and put UK back as a global leader in nuclear development is warmly welcomed, as is maintaining the essential work to decommission the UK’s nuclear legacy. The industry’s focus is on delivering the current large-scale new build projects that are essential to the UK’s energy security and transition to a low carbon economy. The funding for Small Modular Reactor research is welcomed and will benefit not just the UK nuclear supply chain, but UK-plc and energy security.”

John Clarke, NDA chief executive, said: “With this settlement, our aim will be to continue to make broad progress across our nuclear estate, but it is clear that to achieve that we and our site licence companies will need to place even greater focus on achieving efficiencies and value for money.”

The NDA will set out more details of the implications of the settlement in its draft Business Plan and Strategy documents which it will publish for consultation on 5 January. The consultations on both documents will be open for six weeks and comments will need to be returned by 15 February.

Source: World Nuclear News

UK plans small modular nuclear reactor ‘in 2020s’

Ministers announce £250m funding for nuclear research and development including competition to develop small modular reactors

A general view of the security fence at Heysham Nuclear Power Station on March 17, 2011 in Heysham, United Kingdom

Developers say small nuclear reactors would be cheaper and quicker to build than traditional nuclear plants, and also more flexible.  Photo: Getty Images

The UK could build one of the world’s first small modular nuclear reactors in the 2020s, after ministers announced support for the technology through a £250m research package.

A competition to identify the “best value small modular reactor design for the UK” will be launched in the new year, which will “pave the way towards building one of the world’s first small modular reactors in the UK in the 2020s”, the Treasury said.

Developers say small reactors would be much cheaper and quicker to build than conventional nuclear power plants, with components manufactured in factories and then assembled on site.

The small reactors would have a lower capacity than conventional nuclear plants, such as the proposed Hinkley Point plant in Somerset, but would also be more flexible in their generation.

Read the full article by clicking here 

Source: Telegraph

Contracts for new Dounreay waste store

The planned construction of a new high-level waste storage facility at the UK’s Dounreay site is progressing with the award of three contracts. The £22 million ($33 million) facility will be an extension to the existing Dounreay Cementation Plant.

Dounreay - new HLW store - 460 (DSRL)

The new facility will hold encapsulated waste arising from the decommissioning activities on the Dounreay site, providing more storage for 500-litre drums and a drum inspection area. It will use a remotely-operated process to condition and immobilize higher activity liquid waste for long-term storage by mixing it with cement in steel drums. Planning permission for the facility was granted by the Highland Council in March.

Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL) announced yesterday that it has awarded Amec Foster Wheeler a 12-month contract for the design, safety case and environmental assessment for the facility. Under the contract, Amec Foster Wheeler will develop the concept into a fully detailed manufacturing design with a combined safety case submission. The value of the contract has not been disclosed.

Leigh Wakefield, director for Amec Foster Wheeler’s clean energy business unit, said: “The design of this state-of-the-art facility is a key element in the decommissioning strategy of the site and one that we are looking forward to delivering for this important client.”

Meanwhile, DSRL has awarded local contractor J Gunn and Sons a contract for the site enabling works. Work under the four-month agreement began at the end of October.

Street Cranes Special Projects Limited has been awarded a contract to design the drum handling crane.

DSRL manages and operates, on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the Dounreay site in Scotland, which was the UK’s centre for experimental fast breeder research and development from 1954 until 1994.

Source: World Nuclear News

Cold testing complete at UK vitrification plant

A demonstration plant to vitrify radioactive waste has completed initial commissioning prior to its deployment at the UK’s Sellafield site. The full-scale GeoMelt In-Container Vitrification (ICV) plant is a collaboration between the UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) and US radioactive waste management specialist Kurion.


The UK has over 300,000 tonnes of intermediate and low-level waste that could be suitable for treatment using GeoMelt, NNL and Kurion said. Unlike conventional vitrification technology, which requires a homogenous waste feed, GeoMelt can process various forms of waste simultaneously, and can use liabilities such as contaminated soils and inorganic ion exchange media into glass formers. It can also treat radioactive contaminated asbestos, a material found at many plants undergoing decommissioning.

The non-radioactive phase of the commissioning program concluded with a demonstration on simulated Sellafield waste, and showed that the system started up safely, reliably and met its design goals. The system will now be disassembled and moved to the NNL’s Central Laboratory at Sellafield, about 25 kilometres to the south of NNL’s engineering facility in Workington where the non-active testing was carried out.

The technology was initially developed by the USA’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. It can be used to process non-radioactive hazardous wastes such as organic wastes and heavy metals, and has been used to produce a cumulative total of 26,000 tonnes of glass at various projects in Australia, Japan, the UK and the USA since the 1990s.

The NNL’s GeoMelt ICV system is designed to accommodate both small test melts and full-scale melts in disposal containers with a capacity of three cubic metres. This allows for the flexibility to demonstrate, test and process radioactively contaminated and other hazardous waste streams. Lifecycle costs for waste management are lowered by the reduction of the volume of waste and its conversion to a stable form with lower packaging, storage, handling, transportation and disposal costs.

NNL and Kurion plan to increase the total throughput of the system in 2016, reaching a maximum processing capacity of more than 200 tonnes per year. The companies will also evaluate the installation of additional systems.

NNL director of waste management and decommissioning Nick Hanigan said the completion of the cold commissioning phase was a key milestone for the laboratory’s core mission to evaluate options to improve the lifecycle cost for managing and dispositioning waste streams, in the UK nuclear complex, including “problematic” waste streams that currently lack a disposal path.

Kurion founder John Raymont said that the work at NNL was attracting the attention of “leading decision makers” from Europe, Japan and the USA. “We intend to use this new system as a demonstration platform for the worldwide nuclear market,” he said.

Source: World Nuclear News

Hunterston B ‘cracks’ appear as expected in unit 3

EDF Energy has found cracks in three of the graphite bricks in unit 3 of its Hunterston B nuclear power plant in North Ayrshire, Scotland. Similar cracks were found in October last year in two of the graphite bricks of unit 4. In both cases, the company said the cracks have no safety implications.


Hunterston B (Image: EDF Energy)

EDF Energy said today that, as part of routine inspections, engineers had looked at part of unit 3’s graphite core.

“Three graphite bricks were found to be cracked. This is known as keyway root cracking and was predicted to start happening at this point in the station’s lifetime,” the company said. “It does not affect the operation of the reactor and the findings have no safety implications and are well within any limits for safe operation.”

Planned statutory outages are carried out at each of the two reactors every three years. Reactor 4’s latest such outage was between early August and early November 2014. Reactor 3’s current outage started on 2 October and is expected to be completed by early December.

EDF Energy said it is publicising its findings as part of its commitment to openness and transparency. Further inspections will look at more of the graphite core and if any additional cracks are found, the company said it will share this information.

“Nuclear safety drives everything we do,” Hunterston B station director Colin Weir said. “This means we work within very large safety margins. This applies to graphite bricks too. The level of cracking which is considered reasonable is far below anything which would affect the reactor’s safe operation. It is accepted by our regulators and materials experts that cracks will occur in some of the bricks and that the core will lose some of its mass as part of the normal ageing process.”

The observations were anticipated, Weir said, and the company’s view of the “best estimate lifetime planning date” of 2023 for both units has not changed.

Weir told World Nuclear News today: “We don’t need to replace cracked graphite bricks and in fact this wouldn’t be possible. What we are focused on is monitoring and modelling the graphite to ensure the expected cracks remain well below a level which doesn’t allow distortion of the core and hence continues to allow insertion of the control rods unimpeded.”

EDF Energy said it would always take a nuclear power plant out of service “long before an issue became unsafe, regardless of commercial considerations”.

Hunterston B power plant is a nuclear licensed site operating two Advanced Gas-cooled Reactors – units 3 and 4. The graphite core of each of the reactors is made up of around 6000 graphite bricks – 3000 of these are the graphite bricks containing fuel channels – which are all connected together.

“The structure is designed to contain many redundant bricks meaning a very large number of bricks would have to crack before there were any significant safety concerns,” EDF Energy said.

“Over time, graphite slowly loses weight as part of the normal ageing process. This is a well-known phenomenon which was fully considered as part of the stations’ design and is factored into safety limits approved by the independent regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR),” it said.

Graphite ageing is one area used to determine the lifespan of an AGR nuclear power station. Greater understanding of the ageing process by sampling and modelling can lead to them operating safely for longer, giving the UK secure and reliable low-carbon electricity, the company said.

Jim Reed, EDF Energy’s graphite core safety case group head, said that a quarter-scale model of an AGR unit the company has built with the help of Bristol University, demonstrates that such a reactor can continue to operate normally and safely with cracks in up to 30% of the graphite bricks.

“Over time we expect cracks to appear in fuel bricks. The safety is really quite clear because there’s a large margin between the control rods and the distortion you would get in the reactor,” Reed said in an information video posted on the company’s website today. “And even at 30% cracking there is still plenty of margin to get the control rods into these channels,” he said.

Source: World Nuclear News

Barrow BAE Systems nuclear submarine £1.3bn package agreed

Ongoing work on HMS Anson

Early stages of construction work on HMS Anson commenced in 2012

A price and delivery schedule for the fifth nuclear-powered submarine to be built at a Cumbrian shipyard has been agreed by the government.

The £1.3bn package will cover the design, remaining building work and testing of HMS Anson at BAE Systems’ Barrow site over the next five years.

It is the latest in a string of contractual announcements by successive governments since the 1990s.

The vessel is one of a fleet of seven Astute Class submarine.

Two are already in operation, one is undergoing sea trials, a fourth is at an advanced stage of construction and work has begun on the sixth.

There has never been one big contract to build them all, funding has always been announced in segments.

‘Important milestone’

Minister of state for defence procurement, Philip Dunne, said: “Building submarines is not a simple endeavour.

“Every element of it is quite complex, including securing the right contractual arrangements around it.

“So what we’ve done is build components, modules and elements under individual contracts.

“This is about bringing it all together ad taking it through to completion.”

Tony Johns, managing director of BAE Systems submarines, said: “Signing this contract is an important milestone in the Astute programme.

“This is a hugely complex national endeavour and we are proud of the role we play in helping to protect our nation’s interests.”