EDF to redesign British reactors after leaks at Chinese nuclear power station

The energy giant has reportedly been forced to redesign Britain’s proposed reactors after failures at Chinese plant

Big Zero Report 2022

French state-owned energy company EDF has reportedly been forced to redesign Britain’s proposed reactors after leaks at a major nuclear power station in China.

Last year, China General Nuclear Power Group which operates the Taishan nuclear power plant announced the shutdown of one of the project’s reactors to initiate maintenance work after it investigated fuel damage.

Taishan plant, which is around 80 miles west of Hong Kong was the first site in the world to have this kind of reactor in operation.

Reports claim that after the incident, EDF unveiled plans to redevelop the way fuel rods are held in place in its European Pressurised Reactor generators.

Last week, the government granted planning consent for Sizewell C nuclear power station in Suffolk. 

A Hinkley Point C spokesperson told ELN: “The issue with fuel assemblies at Taishan has been investigated and is understood.

“A detailed solution has been identified by Framatome and will be implemented for Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C.

“We are confident that this will be effective as it is based on a detailed understanding of the issue and operational experience at existing power stations, including Sizewell B in Britain.

“The proposed solution is also in operation at Olkiluoto 3 in Finland which has a different fuel design to Taishan. As a prudent operator, we will investigate all potential alternative mitigations and share that information with the nuclear regulator.”

An Office for Nuclear Regulation spokesperson told ELN: “We have been in regular contact with the French, Finnish and Chinese regulators on the Taishan fuel failure issue during the past year.

“The knowledge gained will be used to help inform our regulation of nuclear plants in the UK, like Hinkley Point C, where the EPR reactor will be installed.

“As we would expect, all options are being considered by the Hinkley Point C project to address the operational experience from Taishan and any proposals will be rigorously assessed by ourselves in due course.

“We are content that there remains sufficient time to address any potential learning from Taishan and fuel is not expected to be delivered to the Hinkley Point C site for several years.”

If you enjoyed this story you can sign up to our weekly email for Energy Live News – and if you’re interested in hearing more about the journey to net zero by 2050, you can also sign up to the future Net Zero newsletter. 

Latest Podcast