UK needs to learn from nuclear build experiences

LONDON (Reuters) - Companies planning to build new-generation nuclear power plants in Britain need to learn from experiences made on recent station construction projects, the UK’s engineering institutions said on Thursday.

Experience gained from recent projects to build pressurised water nuclear reactors (PWR) is crucial for Britain’s nuclear developers as the completion of the country’s last PWR was more than 15 years ago, a group of British engineering associations said in a report to be presented at the government’s Nuclear Development Forum in London on Thursday.

“If the new build programme is to be successful, all available experience must be gleaned from around the world,” said Tom Foulkes, director general of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

“This will help prevent delays and inefficiencies being repeated and will make the UK plants exemplars of global best practice.”

The report lists five major lessons learnt from building PWRs such as Areva’s Olkiluoto 3 project in Finland, which include employing qualified and experienced sub contractors and using a reactor design that has been approved and tested.

“In the Olkiluoto 3 project, it was concluded that the detailed design had been done too late. Consequently, delivery of Construction Plan (CP) to STUK’s (Finland’s nuclear authority) review has often been delayed relative to the planned schedule,” the report said.

Olkiluoto has been delayed by at least three years from its initial startup date of 2009.

Britain plans to build new nuclear power plants by 2025 to replace ageing installations which will be gradually phased out.

French utility EDF has pledged to open its first new nuclear power plant in Britain in 2018.

Reporting by Karolin Schaps