News Archive


Western Branch receives record attendance at lecture series

The 2014/15 evening lecture series brought in record attendance for Western Branch with four presentations on a topical range of subjects taking place in September and October. This season’s events have had a highly enthusiastic response with members continuing in discussion with the speakers after the presentations.

The lecture series has been based around a relevant choice of subjects for West England and Stuart Jelliss, Western Branch Events Coordinator, reports the highlights below:

Offshore Wind Energy

The first talk in the series was based on the challenges of offshore wind and drew in an attendance of 85 people.  Dr Gillian Smith, Offshore Wind Energy Group at DNV GL, gave a presentation about the challenges of identifying suitable sites to install wind turbines in marine environments and transferring technicians in wild and windy conditions.  It was clear that this is an industry in its early development stage, as progression from small turbines and small installation barges to large modern turbines with huge bespoke installation vessels has only happened in the last 10-15 years.  The presentation generated many interesting questions with discussion continuing during the buffet after.  The event was held at Bristol University and was jointly organised with the West of England Metals and Materials Association (WEMMA) and the Bristol and Bath branch of the IMechE, on 9th September.

EPR Design at Hinkley Point C

The second evening lecture was a detailed technical presentation about the EPR design that is proposed for Hinkley Point C.  Paul Edwards, NNB GenCo, presented the design, its heritage and the reasons for its development to meet modern standards of safety, reliability and availability.  It is clear that, once complete, the twin reactor site at Hinkley Point will deliver a large contribution to the national grid and demonstrate a reliable source of energy to meet ever growing demands.  As expected with a technical presentation, the nature of the response questions were equally technical with the informed audience keen to understand the intricacies of the design.  The event, which took place on 10th September at Taunton College, was also a joint event with the Devon and Somerset branch of the IMechE. 

The Workings of the Office for Nuclear Regulation

On 1st October at the Atkins office in Bristol, Iain Gray, Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), gave a presentation about the newly formed ONR and their work in the industry.  He explained the difference between the NII (Nuclear Installations Inspectorate) and the ONR and gave the reasons why the changes had been made.  Iain also explained the re-training and reaccrediting that each inspection has undergone to ensure their knowledge is up to date with the changing legislation that has come into force.  In addition to those regulatory activities that we are familiar with in our parts of the industry, Iain went on to detail the ONR’s other responsibilities that we might not be aware of, such as regulation of the transport of many thousands of medical isotopes that are routinely moved around the country.  Again the Q&A session sparked a lively debate with challenging questions about the level of regulatory engagement for new build projects. 

Severn Barrage Tidal Power

At the Atkins office in Bristol, Professor Roger Falconer presented the various concepts for a tidal power generation barrage across the river Severn.  The Severn Barrage project proposes to develop marine renewable energy by building a barrage stretching from the English coast to the Welsh coast across the Severn Estuary and Bristol Channel. The presentation outlined the various schemes that have been proposed for the project over the years and the research and modelling work that has been done to support each one.  It showed how the computational hydro-environmental models have developed over the years and how the different assumptions and boundary conditions greatly affect the estimates of potential power output and the impact of each scheme.  The benefits and dis-benefits of ebb-tide only and by-directional generation were explored and also the design considerations around lagoon based generation schemes proposed for various locations around the Severn estuary.  The event was held on 8th October and brought in a wide and varied audience of 62 people from a number of different institutes and members of the public keen to hear about the potential schemes. 

View more about the next NIWB evening lecture on 25th November