The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the Environment Agency (EA) have started assessing Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy's Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR), clearing an important hurdle for reactor licence.
Having completed nine-month preparatory work, the regulators will now assess the potential use of ABWRs in new nuclear power stations at Wylfa in Anglesey and Oldbury in South Gloucestershire.
The in-depth assessment, which represents the second phase in the joint generic design assessment (GDA) process, is likely to be completed by the end of 2017.
The GDA process will help the regulators assess the safety, security, environmental and waste implications of new reactor designs in the UK before site-specific proposals are made.
The Welsh Government-sponsored body The Natural Resources Wales was also involved in the GDA process alongside the two regulators.
ONR deputy chief inspector Mark Foy said the GDA process enables the regulator to undertake a pre-assessment of the safety and security aspects of a reactor design to determine its suitability for use in the UK.
"I am satisfied that we are ready to begin step two of the Generic Design Assessment and that there are adequate project management, technical and legal provisions in place to ensure this is completed in a timely manner to meet UK Government and wider stakeholder expectations," said Foy.
Additionally, Hitachi-GE will also launch its GDA comments process, which allows anyone to 'have their say' and question the company for their response.
In the past several months, Horizon Nuclear Power, a subsidiary of Hitachi, proposed to use the new reactor design at the Wylfa and Oldbury plants totalling at least 5,400MW. In January 2013, the UK regulators started a design assessment on Hitachi-GE's new nuclear reactor.
The 2,700MW Wylfa Newydd plant is likely to obtain the full range of licences and permissions and start main construction activities by 2018 and start commercial operations in the first half of the 2020s, subject to timing of the final investment decision and detailed construction programme.
Image: Hitachi-GE's new reactor design. Photo: courtesy of Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy.