The UK Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) said, in its latest quarterly GDA report, that there has been progress during the last quarter on the generic design assessment (GDA) for the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor in the UK. In its previous update, the ONR highlighted its concerns with progress on the GDA for the AP1000 and "lack of technical convergence" in some topic areas.

The process is now scheduled to be completed in March 2017, two months later than originally scheduled. ONR said it had seen an improvement overall in the Westinghouse approach to GDA closure, as a result of Westinghouse’s executive-level interventions and revised project governance. “However we remain concerned over the volume of work to be delivered, and judge that our planned ‘health check’ review scheduled for July 2016 will be important in informing the level of confidence we have in the revised closure programme,” the ONR said.

The quarterly report provided information on work the ONR has been carrying out on the GDA of the Westinghouse AP1000 and Hitachi-GE’s UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (UK ABWR). ONR expects to complete the GDA process for the UK ABWR in December of 2017. ONR also said it has "developed 'entry criteria' to provide transparency on the factors that underpin our decision on readiness to commence GDA" for China General Nuclear's (CGN’s) HPR1000 design.

NuGeneration (NuGen), the UK joint venture between Japan's Toshiba and France's Engie, plans to build  a 3.8GWe NPP at Moorside, in West Cumbria using Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactor technology. Horizon Nuclear Power, established in 2009 and acquired by Hitachi in November 2012,  plans to deploy the UK ABWR at two sites – Wylfa Newydd, which is on the Isle of Anglesey, and Oldbury-on-Severn, in South Gloucestershire. Areva’s Evpo;itopnary Pressurised Reactor (UK EPR) was the first reactor design to complete the GDA process and receive a Design Acceptance Confirmation (DAC) from the ONR and a Statement of Design Acceptability (SoDA) from the Environment Agency in December 2012. Two EPR units are planned for construction at EDF’s  Hinkley Point C NPP in Somerset.

There were no interactions between regulators and the proposed requesting party for the HPR1000 GDA in the period covered by the latest report, ONR noted. But the fact they have developed 'entry criteria' is important, it said, as regulators are required to advise the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) on whether a potential requesting party – in this instance, CGN and EDF – is ready to start GDA.

The report also provided an update on its preparations to assess small modular reactor designs. In March 2016, following conclusion of the techno-economic assessment, DECC announced a competition to identify the best value SMR design for the UK. "As it is clear that government is progressing work in this area, the regulators have started to think about what challenges technology of this nature may present to the current regulatory regime. We also consider that our knowledge of reactor technology may be helpful to DECC in the design and implementation of the competition, and will provide assistance if requested," the ONR said.  With the abolition of DECC (see related story) it is assumed that the new Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy department will take over these responsibilities.