NuScale hires Areva for nuclear fuel design and testing

* Areva to design and test SMR fuel
* Areva to help Texas firm with NRC license for interim storage site for spent nuclear fuel
* Areva reports new losses derived in part from reactor projects

NuScale Power, which is developing a 50 MW small modular reactor design, announced that it is hiring French state-owned nuclear giant Areva for help with design and testing services of nuclear fuel for the reactor. The company announced a long list of fuel design and testing services which address how the fuel will perform in the SMR.

Dale Atkinson, NuScale’s COO, said in a press statement that the fuel design and testing services from Areva will contribute towards NuScale’s objectives of submitting a reactor design for safety review at the NRC in 2016.

NuScale has spent a reported $270 million so far in preparing for the NRC review of which $217 million has come from the U.S. Department of Energy. The company told the Portland Business Journal on Feb 17 that it is about at the halfway mark in preparing the documentation for the review.

The geographic proximity of NuScale and Areva facilities will help with execution of the plan.  NuScale has its design HQ in the Portland, OR, area. Areva maintains a fuel fabrication facility in Richland, WA. Areva also has nuclear reactor technical teams and Lynchburg, VA, and Charlotte, NC.

NuScale is working with its lead customer for the first-of-a kind unit targeting a 2020 construction start date possibly at a site in Idaho. The Utah Area Municipal Power System is the customer which is with partnered with Energy Northwest to buy power from the reactor site. In its complete configuration, the site will be home to up to 12 50 MW SMRs along with turbines, switchyards, and electrical transmission infrastructure across the Pacific Northwest.

Areva to help WCS with spent fuel facility license application

Areva has signed an agreement with Waste Control Specialists (WCS) of Texas to help with WCS’s license application and environmental report for the proposed construction of an interim used nuclear fuel storage facility in Texas. WCS filed a letter of intent on Feb 6 with the NRC. The firm says it will seek a license to operate the spent fuel storage Installation at its facility in Andrews, Texas.

David Jones, senior vice-president of Areva’s North America office, said the facility would deliver “an economically viable option for used fuel management while more permanent solutions are addressed”.

In a statement released by its Paris, France, offices, the firm also quoted Jones saying, “AREVA is pleased to provide WCS with its licensing experience and global expertise for the safe storage, transport and management of used nuclear fuel. This initiative,  already has the consent of local stakeholders.”

Areva faces new numbers on financial losss

A Reuters report for Feb 20 citing French language news media said Areva will post a loss of about $4.5 billion for 2014. The firm has warned for months that it will book additional provisions for losses associated with cost overruns at two nuclear reactors under construction, one on Finland and the other in France.

The firm has also said, in statements to financial wire services, that the global nuclear power market for new reactors remains slower than expected.

The firm needs an infusion of new capital to participate in the new nuclear build in the UK where it is partnered with EDF. The Hinkley Site, which will build two 1650 MW Areva EPR reactors, has delayed completing its investment commitments though it is supported by a UK government price guarantee plan. Areva is not an equity partner for the project.

A bright spot for the firm is that it is partnered with Mitsubishi to provide four 1100 MW Atmea reactors to Turkey at a site near Sinop on the coast of the Black Sea.

Areva is expected to formally release its financials the week of March 2 along with details of a new strategic plan to turn the company around.

Update 23 February 2015

The New York Times reports that Areva’s expected losses will be $5.6 billion which is $1.1 billion more than previously reported last week by Reuters.

“Areva, the French nuclear technology giant, warned on Monday that it was facing a loss of a magnitude that raises doubts about its ability to continue operations without an injection of state funds to restore its capital.”

“The state-controlled company expects a 2014 net loss of about 4.9 billion euros, or $5.6 billion, from a loss of €500 million a year earlier, it said in a preliminary statement. The loss is substantially larger than Areva’s market capitalization of about €3.7 billion, suggesting it may need new funds to continue operating.”

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