Hitachi-GE signs MOU with UK universities

8 November 2016

Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy, Ltd (Hitachi-GE) on 31 October signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Imperial College London and Bangor University (Wales). Hitachi-GE has undertaken to provide industry advice to Imperial and Bangor’s newly formed “Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) Research Hub and Network”, drawing on its extensive BWR experience. This will include part-time deployment of a researcher to Bangor, and building on the existing programme of Japanese internships for UK students.

The MOU followed a conference in Bangor hosted by the two universities. Hitachi-GE is hoping to provide its UK advanced BWR (ABWR) for the new Wylfa Newydd NPP in Wales planned by Horizon Nuclear Power, a 100% subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd. Two UK ABWRs are planned for Wylfa Newydd, generating around 2.7GWe of electricity.

President and Representative Director of Hitachi-GE, Hidetoshi Takehara, said: “With development of the UK’s first BWR proposed just up the road at Wylfa Newydd, this scheme helps ensure that project is a springboard to the UK becoming a world-power in its domestic expertise on BWR technology.

Dr Michael Bluck, Director of the Centre for Nuclear Engineering at Imperial, said: “This scheme which will examine research needs and formulate projects to support the continued production of low carbon, baseload electricity for the UK and many other countries for decades to come.” He added: “The BWR Research Hub and Network will bring together the UK research base with Hitachi Nuclear researchers to help develop future generations of Boiling Water Reactor technology here in the UK and Wales.”

The BWR research hub was formed by a MOU between Imperial College and Bangor University in June 2016. Its objective is to: “To enable the academic and industrial communities of Wales and the wider UK to deepen and enhance their understanding of BWR technology, and participate in research and development relating to this and future generations of boiling water reactors.”

The hub is led by a steering group chaired by Imperial College’s Dr Robin Grimes, and will shortly appoint a Director to coordinate its activities. Logistical support is provided jointly by Imperial College and Bangor University.

The UK ABWR is currently undergoing generic design assessment by the UK's Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR). Hitachi-GE satisfactorily addressed ONR’s requirements for the ABWR design in June 2015. ONR said on 31 October that Issue 0001 had represented a "serious regulatory shortfall". It added: "The radioactive source term is a fundamental part in understanding and therefore being able to control the hazards associated with any nuclear facility".  However, ONR said: "The regulators are now satisfied with Hitachi-GE's definition and justification for the source terms for the reactor." A Hitachi-GE spokeswoman said: "This is a significant milestone, and all our progress keeps us on track for completion of Generic Design Assessment in December 2017."

Meanwhile, Horizon has completed a public consultation process for Wylfa Newydd. This was Horizon's second and final stage of consultation on the project, running from 31 August to 25 October. Duncan Hawthorne, Horizon's CEO, said: "Even though this formal consultation is now complete we'll keep on listening to the views of local people to make sure we find the best way to deliver the opportunities and benefits that local people want." The feedback   will now be analysed in detail as Horizon prepares to submit its planning application - the Development Consent Order – in 2917. Horizon announced in August it will provide funding towards the construction of a new Engineering Centre of Excellence at a college on the Isle of Anglesey. The facility will be used for the training of apprentices for Wylfa Newydd. Horizon expects to have all the required licences and permissions in place by 2018.

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