Introduction to the UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactor
In many ways, nuclear power stations are similar to other types of power generation: a turbine is made to spin, and in doing so it produces electricity. Though there are some differences in how the turbine is made to spin, this is essentially the same for coal, gas, wind, tidal and many other forms of power generation.
Those types known as thermal generation - primarily nuclear, coal and oil and some gas – achieve this by heating water to produce steam, which is then passed through the turbine causing it to spin. In a nuclear power station, a nuclear reaction is simply used to generate the heat, which boils the water to produce steam.
There are various types of nuclear reactors around the world, with over 400 reactors in operation globally. One of the most common types is the Boiling Water Reactor (BWR), of which the Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) is the latest design in operation.
BWRs are known as direct cycle reactors, meaning they work by passing the steam which has been generated inside the reactor directly to the turbine. The table below demonstrates this process.
UK ABWR Key Facts
The ABWR is a generation III+ (Gen. III+) reactor, the most modern operational generation of nuclear power plant designs. The ABWR is the most well-established Gen. III+ technology operating anywhere in the world.
There are four ABWR plants operational at three sites in Japan: two at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa site; one at Hamaoka site and one at Shika site. There are further plants under construction at Shimane and Ohma sites in Japan.
At full power, a single ABWR reactor produces around 1350MWe of electricity – enough to power more than two million homes.