- EDF Files Ambitious Plans for New EPRs
- Netherlands Talking To Three Suppliers For New Nuclear Power Plants
- India Starts Commercial Operations of First Domestic 700 MW PHWR
- ARC-100 Submits Permit for SMR at Point Lepreau NB
- Finland / Steady Energy Raises Initial Funding For SMR-Based District Heating
(WNN contributed to this report) EDF has filed an application to build the first of three pairs of the re-designed 1670 MW EPR2 nuclear power plants on the Penly site near Dieppe in northern France. The action is a key step in the state owned enterprise’s ambitious plans put forward by French president Emmanuel Macron to relaunch the country’s reactor construction program announced in May 2021.
Macron has pledged to modernize and expand the country’s nuclear industry. He wants to see the construction of at least six new nuclear power reactors and the possibility of eight more for a total of 14. The new reactors will be needed by the mid-2030s as units in the current fleet age out.
EDF is planning to build three pairs of EPR2 plants with the first pair at Penly followed by a pair each at the Gravelines nuclear site, northeast of Penly near Calais, or either Bugey, to the east of Lyon, or Tricastin, south of Lyon near Avignon.
The government’s initial estimates of the costs of the six new reactors is $51.7 billion euros ($49.8 billion) or about $8 billion each. EDF has promised that the second generation of EPRs will not repeat the costs overruns and schedule delays of the first two units – one in Finland and the other in France.
The firm said in a statement that it is “engaged in the authorization procedures required for the launch of the construction of the first pair of EPR2 reactors at Penly, as well as the administrative procedures for its completion and its link-up to the electricity grid.”
The company said its target is to start work at the Penly site mid-2024. It said the EDF board had decided to proceed with planned construction at Penly, which is also the site of two operating nuclear plants that began operation in 1990 and 1992.
The company said the program for three pairs of EPR2 plants will create 30,000 jobs a year during the construction phase and more than 10,000 during the operating phase.
Nuclear industry group Gifen said on social media it welcomed the submission of the application, calling it “an important step on the way to launching the nuclear recovery program in our country.”
Gifen said construction will benefit from feedback from the first pair of EPRs in China, one in Finland, one in France and two in the UK.
France’s share of generation from its nuclear fleet is about 70%, which is the highest in the world, but it was 63% in 2022 due to the shutdowns of several plants because of unresolved problems with piping corrosion..
France is making an aggressive push to promote nuclear power in the European Union, persuading 10 countries to join an alliance calling on Brussels to do more to back the construction of reactors.
The EPR2: France’s New Generation Reactor
The EPR-2 is an optimized version of the original Areva EPR reactor. It has much in common with the EPR, the same power output (1,670 MWe), and an operating life of at least 60 years. However, EDF says it can be built two years faster than the previous version. One of the efficiency measures is to eliminate a lot of redundant paperwork in the preparation phase.
The EPR2 has been made more modular and it uses more prefabricated elements than the EPR which is expected to accelerate its construction and to simplify the organization of the work-site.
Current EPRs Online Now
Taishan-1 in China was the first EPR unit to begin commercial operation, in December 2018. A second EPR at Taishan began commercial operation in September 2019.
After a number of delays and cost increases, Okiluoto-3 in Finland recently became the first EPR plant to begin operation in Europe. In France, the Flamanville-3 EPR is nearing completion, and in the UK there are two EPRs under construction at Hinkley Point C with two more under consideration for Sizewell C.
EDF is contracted to build four EPRs in the UK. In taking on new projects in France, it will have to vastly increase procurement from its supply chain and increase its workforce to meet the demands of the new ambitious program in France.
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Netherlands Talking To Three Suppliers For New Nuclear Power Plants
- Large units could be deployed at existing Borssele site as soon as 2035, with SMRs also under consideration
The three are the US company Westinghouse, the French state-owned company EDF, and South Korea’s Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP). There was no mention of two other major nuclear plant suppliers which are Russia’s state corporation Rosatom and China’s state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation.
Jetten said if two additional plants are operational around 2035, the share of nuclear energy will grow to more than 10% of the electricity mix, up from about 3.5% today.
He added, “We are also accelerating the development of small modular reactors [SMRs] that are close to the market in their design phase.”
The Netherlands’ only commercial nuclear power station is the single-unit Borssele in the southwest of the country. The 482-MW Siemens-built pressurized water reactor unit began commercial operation in 1973. In December, the Dutch government chose the Borssele site as its preferred location for the proposed construction of two new nuclear power reactor units.
The government said the new units should be deployed by 2035, each have a capacity of between 1,000 MW and 1,650 MW, and use Generation III+ reactor technology.
All Three Technologies Meet Basic Criteria
All three technologies said to be in the running would meet these criteria. Westinghouse’s technology is the AP1000 (1150 MW), EDF’s is the EPR (1670 MW) and KHNP’s the APR1400 (1400 MW).
The government also said it would begin the legislative process to allow the operating lifetime extension of the existing Borssele unit beyond 2033, the final operation date set by existing legislation.
Officials in late April released a draft of the ‘Climate Fund for 2024’ that included money for the Borssele extension, along with two new large-scale reactors and a development plan for SMRs. The draft also said millions of dollars were being set aside to help develop a trained nuclear power workforce in the Netherlands. Government officials recently earmarked more than $350 milliom (€321m) to fund further development of nuclear energy in the country.
The Netherlands wants to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. A September 2022 study found that a nuclear generating capacity of about 9,000 MW would be “optimal” towards this goal, including large-scale nuclear and possibly SMRs. This goal suggests a long term vision for the Netherlands invovles multiple new large scale nuclear power plants.
The Netherlands is looking for new sources of power to replace its heavy reliance on natural gas. The Groningen field in the northeastern corner of the country for years has supplied the Netherlands with a cheap and ready supply of gas, but the government has announced production at the site will end in October of this year.
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India Starts Commercial Operations of First Domestic 700 MW PHWR
(Economic Times contributed to this report) India’s first indigenously developed 700 MW nuclear power reactor, KAPP-3, has started commercial operations at the Kakrapar Atomic Power Project in Gujarat. The reactor is currently operating at 90% of its total power capacity. Commissioning activities were underway for a second 700 MW PHWR at KAPP 4, which had achieved 97% progress last month.
The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) plans to build sixteen 700 MW pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs) across the country.
World Nuclear News reported that in 2022, Minister of State Jitendra Singh told the Lok Sabha – the lower house of the Indian parliament – that the Kakrapar project was expected to reach completion this year, with completion of Rawatbhata 7 and 8 expected in 2026.
The Indian government has sanctioned the construction of ten 700 MWe PHWRs – not including Kakrapar 3 and 4 and Rajasthan units 7 and 8 – to be built in “fleet mode” by the end of 2031.
These are: Kaiga units 5 and 6 in Karnataka; Gorakhpur units 3 and 4 in Haryana; Chutka units 1 and 2 in Madhya Pradesh; and Mahi Banswara units 1 and 2 and units 3 and 4 in Rajasthan.
In addition, four Russian-supplied 1000 MWe VVER pressurized water reactors are under construction at Kudankulam: units 3 and 4, under construction since 2017, and units 5 and 6, under construction since 2021. A 500 MWe prototype fast breeder reactor is also under construction at Kalpakkam.
The IPHWR-700 is an Indian pressurized heavy-water reactor designed by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. It is a Generation III reactor developed from earlier CANDU based 220 MW and 540 MW designs. It can generate 700 MW of electricity.
The reactor fuel uses natural uranium fuel with Zircaloy-4 cladding. The core produces 2166 MW of heat which is converted into 700 MW of electricity at a thermal efficiency of 32%. Because there is less excess reactivity inside the reactor, it needs to be refueled continually during operation. The reactor is designed for an estimated life of 40 years.
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Arc-100 Submits Permit for SMR at Point Lepreau NB
(WNN contributed to this report) NB Power, in partnership with ARC Clean Technology Canada Inc, has submitted an environmental impact assessment registration document and an application for a site preparation license for an advanced small modular reactor (SMR) at the existing Point Lepreau nuclear site.
The ARC-100 is currently undergoing the second phase of the CNSC’s pre-licensing Vendor Design Review process, having completed the first phase in 2019.
NB Power said it expects to develop strategic partnerships to support the construction and operation of the SMR. Deployment of SMR technology has also been envisaged in northern New Brunswick, where the Belledune Port Authority has said an ARC-100 providing energy for hydrogen production and other industries could be in operation by 2030-2035.
NB Power, operator of the existing CANDU plant at Point Lepreau, recently published a strategic plan which highlights the need to phase out coal by 2030 and achieve net-zero electricity supply by 2035, while maintaining energy security.
The governments of Ontario, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Alberta in 2022 released a joint strategic plan setting out a path for developing and deploying SMRs.
Deployment of ARC Clean Technology Canada Inc’s ARC-100 100 MWe sodium-cooled fast reactor in New Brunswick, with a fully operational unit at the Point Lepreau site by 2029, is a key objective of Stream 2 of that plan. The submission of the environmental impact assessment registration document to the Department of Environment and Local Government and an application for a License to Prepare Site to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) mark important milestones for the project.
“The milestone achieved today demonstrates that ARC and NB Power continue to be industry leaders in the development and deployment of advanced nuclear technology in Canada,” said Bill Labbe, president and CEO of ARC Clean Technology Canada, Inc.
Options for the ARc-100 in Alberta
In March 2023 RC Clean Technology Canada, Inc. (ARC), and Invest Alberta Corporation (IAC), a Crown corporation of the Government of Alberta, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to jointly pursue activities to support commercialization of ARC’s advanced Small Modular Reactor technology, the ARC-100, in the province of Alberta.
Potential applications include the decarbonization of heavy industry (including oil sands extraction, chemical production, refining, mining, and water treatment and desalinization), the fueling of low-carbon hydrogen projects, and the creation of valuable medical isotopes.
Under the terms of the MOU, ARC will begin the process to expand its operations in Alberta with the objective of developing a fleet of ARC-100 reactors. With the support of IAC, ARC will begin engagement and partnership activities with industry and stakeholders. ARC will also develop the associated supply chains and manufacturing, operating and support services necessary for the construction and operation of multiple ARC-100 units.
About the ARC-100
The ARC-100 is a sodium-cooled 100 MW fast reactor. Key technical attributes include;
- Sodium-cooled fast reactor
- 286 MWt, 100 MWe
- Sodium 355C/510C
- Metallic uranium alloy fuel
- Long 20-year fuel cycle / 60 year life
- Low pressure pool-type reactor
- Inherent safety performance
- No need for emergency generators
- Superheated steam cycle
The reactor’s legacy include the EBR-II, operating 1964-1994, and the Integral Fast Reactor, operating 1984-1994, both of which were developed at the Argonne West site in Idaho. The fuel for the ARC-100 is derived from the operating experience with these experimental reactors.
See also the book “Plentiful Energy: The Story of the Integral Fast Reactor” by Charles E. Till and Yoon Chang that gives the history of the IFR at Argonne. The book is available on Amazon.
About the authors:
Dr. Charles E. Till, Emeritus Member — National Academy of Engineering (NAE)
Dr. Yoon Il Chang, Argonne Distinguished Fellow
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Finland / Steady Energy Raises Initial Funding For SMR-Based District Heating Plant Demonstrator
- VTT subsidiary proposes LDR-50 nuclear plant to tackle fossil fuel dependency
(NucNet) Steady Energy, a new spinout of Finland’s state VTT technical research center, announced it has raised €2 million to kickstart the development of a project for a district heating plant powered by a small nuclear reactor (SMR).
Steady Energy said in a statement it will use the money for research and development work to demonstrate the functionality of the plant by building a 1:1 scale mockup powered by electric heat. According to the statement, the company wants to build the world’s first LDR-50 reactor-based heating plant by 2030.
The LDR (low-temperature district heating and desalination reactor) technology produces 50 MWt of heat. Connection to the district heating network would be through an intermediate circuit and two heat exchangers.
Steady Energy said the LDR-50 is designed to operate at around 150C and below pressure levels of 10 bar. This makes its operating conditions less demanding compared to those of traditional reactors, simplifying the requirements to meet the high safety standards of the nuclear industry.
District Heating Opportunities
Key facts: Over 60 million Europeans rely on district heating to warm their homes. 75% of EU district heating systems still rely on fossil fuels. The majority of low-temperature industrial processes utilize gas for heat generation,
By delivering carbon-neutral heat to homes, offices, and industrial applications, the firm says its SMR can significantly reduce carbon footprint, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and eliminate the burning of fossil fuels.
The company said that 50% of all energy consumed by European Union households is used in heating homes, while 75% of that heat is source from fossil fuels.
Tommi Nyman, chief executive of Steady Energy said, “We’re setting up a demonstration plant for district heating purposes ideally in Finland, but our long-term plan is to have several plants operating around the world, producing carbon-neutral heat to homes, offices and for various industrial applications.”
Steady Energy said it will plan its business models adjusted to customer needs and is ready to deliver heating plants directly to customers. The company said the size of a single 50-MW LDR-50 is sufficient to heat a small city, while a single heating plant can have multiple reactor modules.
The heating plant could even be used as a desalination plant to produce fresh water in areas of the world suffering from water shortage, or it can be modified to produce steam for industrial purposes, said Steady Energy. VTT began its district heating reactor project in 2020. The aim was to design a nuclear district heating plant to serve small, medium-size and large district heating networks.
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