Artist’s rendering of the proposed Wylfa Newydd nuclear power plant. Image: courtesy of Nuclear Industry Association.
The Wylfa Newydd nuclear power plant is being developed in the Isle of Anglesey, Wales, UK. Image: courtesy of NordNordWest.
Horizon Nuclear Power has received planning consent to expand its Wylfa Newydd site office in Anglesey. Image: courtesy of Horizon Nuclear Power.

The Wylfa Newydd nuclear power plant is a two-reactor facility to be constructed in Isle of Anglesey, Wales, UK.

Being developed by Hitachi subsidiary Horizon Nuclear Power, the 2,700MW power plant is estimated to cost £20bn ($26bn).

The construction of the power plant is expected to begin in 2020, with commissioning scheduled for 2025. The project is expected to generate 4,000 jobs during the construction and 850 permanent jobs during operations.

The project will increase low-carbon power supplies in the UK by powering up to five million homes.

Wylfa Newydd nuclear power plant location

The site of the Wylfa Newydd nuclear power plant is located on the land next to the old Magnox Wylfa power station, which was decommissioned in 2015. The location offers good foundation conditions for a new nuclear power station and ensures easy management of flood risks due to its high-elevation above sea level.

The location also befits low-carbon nuclear power generation as it retains the key infrastructure facilities of the old nuclear power plant. The site also offers direct access to requisite seawater cooling facilities.

Wylfa Newydd nuclear power plant development details

Hitachi-GE submitted its UK advanced boiling water reactor (UK ABWR) design for generic design assessment (GDA) in January 2014. The GDA involves a rigorous assessment of the reactor design by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the Environment Agency (EA) to approve the reactor design for use in the UK.

The GDA process was completed in December 2017 and the UK ABWR design was accepted by the Environment Agency (EA) and Natural Resources Wales (NRW).

Public consultation began on all aspects of the power plant in September 2014 and was concluded in October 2016. The application for a development consent order (DCO) was accepted by the Planning Inspectorate of the UK in June 2018.

The European Commission granted the environmental approval for the Wylfa Newydd power project in June 2018.

Plant make-up

“Each ABWR reactor is capable of producing approximately 1,350MWe of electricity, which is sufficient to power more than two million homes.”

The power station will feature two Hitachi-GE UK ABWRs with a combined generating capacity of up to 2,700MW. The Generation III+ advanced boiling water reactor (ABWR) design incorporates safety features for enhanced reliability and are considered the world’s most advanced reactors in commercial operation today.

The reactor building with a height of 44m and 70-80m-long emission stack tower will be constructed for each power generating unit.

The ABWRs operate as direct-cycle reactors, which directly feed the turbine with the steam produced inside the reactor. Each ABWR reactor is capable of producing approximately 1,350MWe of electricity, which can power more than two million homes. The anticipated operational life of the reactor is 60 years.

The UK ABWR reactor building will accommodate a reinforced concrete containment vessel, reactor pressure vessel (RPV), a steam dryer and a steam separator, fuel assembly, control rod, a reactor internal pump, a fine motion control rod drive system, a control rod drive mechanism handling machine and primary steam piping.

The heart of a nuclear power plant will be the RPV, whose bottom will be mounted with a reactor internal pump supplying coolant to the reactor core. The arrangement will avoid the need for external circulation pipes to minimise the potential radiation exposure for workers.

The project also involves the development of a marine off-loading facility (MOLF), cooling water intake and outfall structure, power transmission infrastructure, interim waste and spent-fuel storage facilities, associated buildings for the administration and operations, and access roads.

Grid connection

The electricity generated by the Wylfa Newydd will be fed to the national grid via a 400kV transmission line via the existing substation.

Financing for the power plant project

The UK Government, along with Hitachi and other state-backed Japanese entities, will act as equal investment partners for the project.

In December 2013, the UK Government and Horizon Nuclear Power, Hitachi signed a co-operation agreement for external financing of the power plant under the UK Infrastructure Guarantee Scheme (UKGS).

Contractors Involved in Wylfa Newydd nuclear power plant

Horizon Nuclear Power signed the front-end engineering and design (FEED) contract for the Wylfa Newydd nuclear power project with its prime contractor Hitachi, along with General Electric in May 2013.

Led by Bechtel and its partners Hitachi Nuclear Energy Europe and Japan Gas Corporation, the Menter Newydd joint venture was preferred by Horizon Nuclear Power to construct the two-reactor nuclear plant in May 2016.