Land adjacent to the existing power station at Oldbury is one of eight UK sites included in the Government's Nuclear National Policy Statement (NPS) as being suitable for new nuclear build. The site also has certain advantages of being close to a former nuclear power station, such as existing grid connections and infrastructure.
Our current assumption is that we will construct two reactors at Oldbury generating around 2,700MW (megawatts) of new electricity generating capacity. We have not ruled out the possibility of a third reactor at either of our sites, but our working assumption is two. These would be the Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy (HGNE) Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWR), the most advanced nuclear reactor in commercial operation in the world today. The UK’s two principle nuclear regulators, the Environment Agency and the Office for Nuclear Regulation, began in 2013 the process of assessing the suitability of the ABWR’s ‘generic’ design. This will take a number of years and be followed by separate site-specific proposals from Horizon. Both processes are designed to ensure that reactors used in the UK meet the highest level of health, safety and environmental criteria.
A fundamental principle for our development is that the Oldbury programme should take advantage of learnings from Wylfa Newydd. Wylfa Newydd is now approaching significant milestones and these will help us to shape a clearer, time efficient and cost effective programme for a potential new plant at Oldbury. Horizon and Hitachi are this year progressing with the detailed design work on the Wylfa Newydd Project. This will provide further information about the construction timescales which, along with the development of the financing strategy, will allow us to set out a likely timetable for Oldbury. We expect the first of two Wylfa Newydd reactors will begin operating in the first half of the 2020s, so it is unlikely that construction would begin at Oldbury before the late 2020s or early 2030s. More information on the Wylfa Newydd Project can be found here.
The UK ABWR is a simplified design providing a compact footprint. As our Project develops we will be able to share more information about the station design, including images of how a station is likely to look at site, and local people will have a chance to have a say on our proposals.
A new plant at Oldbury would have a much greater electricity generating capacity than the existing station. As a result, the new power station will need an indirect cooling system, requiring cooling towers, as the estuary simply could not cope with the greater need for cooling water.
Our studies have been looking at all the realistic options, in particular ‘natural draft’ cooling towers (NDCT) and ‘forced draft’ hybrid towers. Our preference is for the hybrid cooling towers which are significantly smaller.
We know and understand that the cooling tower size and design is of utmost importance to local people. Given the significance of the issue, and honouring our commitment to keep people up-to-date, we wanted to share our early view that hybrid cooling towers are now the preferred option for our proposed new nuclear station at Oldbury.
However, until we have consulted local people formally on our proposed power station designs (as part of the pre-application consultation legal requirements), it would be premature to confirm the final outcome.
All cooling towers will give rise to noise to some extent and it is normal to include a noise specification to the manufacturer so that the towers will meet background noise limits. These are imposed by regulators to make sure they are acceptable.
Site design and landscaping will be used to mitigate noise and the measures we propose will form a key part of any future planning application.
It is true that the capital cost of building hybrid towers is greater than for Natural Draft Cooling Towers (NDCT). However, a power station is made up of many different components and systems, and ultimately the final design needs to be an acceptable balance between technical, environmental and commercial factors, and be acceptable locally.
Hybrid cooling towers use fans to force the air to flow through the towers and these fans require additional power. Current information suggests hybrid towers for our proposed nuclear power station near Oldbury would use an additional 40 MW or approximately 1-2% of the station’s output.
There is a requirement to protect nuclear sites from a 1 in 10,000 year flood risk. Proposals for ensuring this level of protection are being developed with the Environment Agency (EA) and the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and are likely to consist of a combination of site-raising alongside improvements to the area's existing flood protection measures.
Whatever scheme is finally proposed, we will have to demonstrate that our flood protection measures do not increase the risk of flooding elsewhere in the locality.
There are currently two 132kV overhead lines connecting the existing Oldbury station into the National Grid. To be able to export the electricity generated by our proposed new station, these two lines will need to be upgraded.
These improvements will involve increasing the capacity of the existing lines and diverting them from the current 132kV substation next to the Oldbury Magnox station to a new 400kV substation, which would be built next to the proposed power station site. This work will be done by National Grid (NGET), which will carry out its own public consultation process on this aspect of the scheme.
There are several key stages in the planning process before any construction can take place. To build a new nuclear power station a Development Consent Order (DCO) application must be submitted to The Planning Inspectorate. This process involves a significant period of consultation and can take several years to complete. Full details of the process can be found on The Planning Inspectorate website. Before we submit any planning application we will carry out formal public consultations with local communities and people, in which we will be seeking input and feedback on our plans.
We are committed to clear and transparent communication and in addition to future, formal consultations; we will continue to engage with local communities to keep them up-to-date with our proposals. If you have any questions or feedback you can contact us on our dedicated Oldbury Freephone telephone line 0800 130 3125 or by emailing us at email@example.com