UK joins with a consortium representing authorities, power plant owners (utilities) and vendors. UK is building new power plants and is especially interested in Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) in order to meet the commitments on lower CO2 emissions in their energy production. The English government through the UK Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has designated the UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory to become a party to the Halden agreement.
The participating countries are USA, Canada, Japan, Korea, China, United Arab Emirates, Sweden, Germany, France, The Netherlands, Norway, and now the UK. The main purpose is to improve the safety of the nuclear industry through international collaborative research. The collaboration is under the auspices of OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) in Paris and the funding is provided by the member organisations. The size of the project is almost 150 MNOK over three years (2021-2023).
The research project is a direct continuation of the HTO part (earlier called MTO) of the Halden Reactor Project. This was established in 1958 and has been running as Norway’s by far largest international research project since then, with more than 100 organizations world-wide involved, and exporting research for more than 10 billion NOK. There has been up to 20 member countries at the same time. In addition to MTO, research was conducted on safety of fuels and materials in the Halden Reactor. In 2018, the Halden Reactor was closed, and some people doubted that it would be possible to continue any of the research areas. However, we have made it, and have now established a new HTO programme, continuing the MTO research but modernizing both the language and the research.
The new research programme utilizes a set of modern simulator labs in Halden, and the topics are Human Performance, Digital I&C – Safety assurance, Control Room Design & Evaluation, Human-Automation Collaboration, Digital Systems for Operations and Maintenance, Digital Transformation of Decommissioning, and Cyber Security for Main Control Rooms.
The new project has launched a new logo, humans and the organization embracing technology, symbolizing not only the embracing of new technology, but also the safety aspect of people and organization taking care of the safety of challenging technology. This view of digitalization is important for all fields in the society, and the research is more relevant for the new digitalized era as ever. Halden is in the forefront of knowledge about digitalization and how to manage the new technology, from a human-oriented viewpoint.