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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 stations. The ABWR is the most well-established Gen. III+ technology operating anywhere in the world.

The ABWR is operational at four sites in Japan: two at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa; one at Hamaoka and one at Shika. There are a further four in construction, two at Lungmen in Taiwan, and one at both Shimane and Ohma in Japan.

At full power, a single ABWR reactor produces around 1350MWe of electricity – enough to power more than two million homes.

For a more comprehensive breakdown of the ABWR and its systems, download the Hitachi-GE ABWR promotional brochure, available as a PDF.