The design of Sizewell C mirrors the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, an approach expected to lead to significant cost savings in the construction phase.
Around 70% of contracts are likely to go to British-based businesses, providing a further boost for a nuclear sector which already directly accounts for over 60,000 jobs in the UK, with another 160,000 jobs sustained in the supply chain.
All new estuary or coastal power stations approved under current Environment Agency guidance – including sites at Pembroke, Great Yarmouth and Shoreham-on-Sea – have included acoustic fish deterrent (AFD) technology in their cooling water designs. And while Sizewell C will be a replica of Hinkley Point C, it will face fewer technological challenges in installing an AFD.
Innovative technology and techniques
Relatively clear waters and weaker tides make the Sizewell C site well-suited for a Synchronised Intense Light and Sound (SILAS) system. This would combine strobe light bars with acoustic signals to maximise effectiveness of both stimuli.
Other key benefits include:
- Success in deterring a wide range of fish. Hearing-sensitive fish are abundant in the waters around the Sizewell C site, but European eels are also present. These are important to conservation efforts and have poor hearing ability, but they do strongly avoid strobe lights.
- Self-cleaning ability. At offshore locations, biofouling can obstruct light bars and create the need for regular maintenance. However, FGS has developed a self-cleaning system, using ultraviolet LEDs to kill off algal cells before they can settle on the lenses.
- Remote monitoring. System functions and performance of offshore underwater components can be assessed remotely using advanced diagnostic methods, allowing operatives to anticipate failing components and head off problems with minimal disruption.
- System redundancy. Spare units installed at the time of construction can be switched in remotely to maintain system integrity in the even of damage or breakdowns.
These are just some of the advancements that have been made as a result of investment in R&D in recent years, with system performance and reliability improved across the board.
And while offshore intake locations are considered challenging environments, advances in oil, gas and wind power industries have contributed to the solutions available for installation and maintenance.
In these industries, human diver interventions are routinely supported by purpose built autonomous underwater vehicles. As such, FGS systems are designed for straightforward maintenance using suitable technologies and techniques.
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