Westinghouse- Driving Nuclear Technology Forward
Mike Waite, Director, New Plant Market Development at Westinghouse Electric Company
An Engineer to trade, Mike Waite is the Director of Market Development for Westinghouse, who are currently working on the AP-1000, a state-of-the-art Pressurised Water Nuclear Reactor. Mike works on developing opportunities from a small idea into a large nuclear plant and works with countries and companies all over the globe.
The New Design
The AP-1000 is Westinghouse’s latest design. The design is breaking performance records, and a number of potential sites are being built globally. There are two US sites under construction which will mean a total of six operational units. Mike also confirmed that he is hopeful of up to four new sites in the Czech Republic and that the current Polish administration is looking to acquire potentially up to three units as well. He highlighted that Nuclear is now becoming seen more as a strong alternative energy source as it provides countries with a reliable, secure energy source. With energy security such an important topic today the ability to be energy self-sufficient is imperative.
"The focus of the government has swung back to nuclear."
With the energy supply chains under scrutiny of late, the ability of UK to become both energy selfsufficient and secure is essential. The Westinghouse Springfield site manufactures almost all of the UK’s nuclear fleet. Although the Uranium Ore itself comes from abroad, (mainly Australia, Canada and Kazakhstan.) there is enrichment potential in the UK through Urenco. The potential for an energy-secure UK comes through developing nuclear energy and the Uranium enrichment process at home.
The challenge of Politics
Due to the cyclical nature of the market, and the importance of government policy and views on nuclear, energy plans can change very quickly. Mike did concede that when new administrations come into power, plans do occasionally have to be put on hold due to a reluctance for nuclear from some countries. He stressed, however, that Westinghouse keep channels of communication open so if and when policy changes for whatever reason, then they can swoop build on work already completed.
Wylfa B in Anglesey could be back on track this under UK Government plans to scale up nuclear.
With the drive for Net-Zero emissions targets. The focus of government has swung back to nuclear. The ever present, reliable, consistent and carbon free alternative can provide huge amounts of electricity to the grid. In France, Westinghouse worked to provide and then enable the capability of French nuclear to be self-sufficient in their own production, again driving down carbon emissions. Mike made it clear that to hit the 2035 emissions targets, work must be done immediately if a widespread nuclear solution is to be completed in time.
Dispelling the Narrative
A common myth surrounding nuclear has been that it's potentially very unsafe. However, Mike was quick to reassure that the design of the AP1000 reactor means that a Fukushima disaster cannot happen. At Westinghouse “We have the leading technical solution in the market”. The new designs are also far more compact using just a quarter of the concrete built at Hinckley Point.
Westinghouse recognises that much must be done to achieve Net-Zero, but Mike believes that through working together with the Government and other companies, they can develop the long-term solution for the UK’s energy supply.
Westinghouse has a 130-year history of innovation that began when the founder, George Westinghouse, commercialised the alternating current and forever changed the way electricity was distributed. The company built the world’s first commercial pressurised water reactor in Shippingport, Pennsylvania. More than 60 years later, 430 nuclear reactors operate around the world using Westinghouse technology.