France Plans New EPR Starts; First of Six Set for 2027

  • France Plans New EPR Starts; First of Six Set for 2027
  • UK PM Truss and French President Macron Confirm Support for Sizewell C
  • Romania’s Nuclearelectrica in Joint Venture for NuScale SMRs
  • Reuter-Stokes and Paragon Energy Solutions to Deliver Nuclear Detection Technology for NuScale Power’s First SMR in Idaho
  • Japan’s Nuclear Safety Agency Will Extend Reactor Life Beyond 60 Years
  • US Urges Ghana to Consider SMRs

France Plans New EPR Starts; First of Six Set for 2027

As the worst energy crisis in generations grips Europe, French President Emanuel Macron announced the country will build six “next generation” 1600 MWe EPRs. He told EDF, the French state-owned enterprise in charge of the nation’s nuclear reactors, to break ground for the first unit by 2027. The other five EPRs are set to be built over the next decade with all of them completed by 2035.

Areva EPR

The government estimates the six new reactors will cost $51.7 billion euros ($49.8 billion). 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.

Electricite de France (EDF) plans to construct the reactors on three existing sites: two at Penly, in Seine-Maritime, two at Gravelines, in northern France, and two in either Bugey, eastern France, or Tricastin, in southern France.

As a parallel effort, Macron told the French energy ministry to draft legislation and submit it to the French parliament which will be intended to streamline the notorious French bureaucratic red tape that has hobbled so many other energy projects.

Macron’s decisions come as the French government is completely nationalizing EDF buying out private institutional investors.

For Macron the decision also has far reaching effects on jobs in France. With each EPR requiring 3,00-5000 workers over a four-to-six year period, plus positive supply chain procurement economic effects, the “lunch bucket” results will be front and center during the next election. It comes up in 2027 which is the date the first EPR is expected to break ground.

New EDF CEO

edf french flagsEDF has a new CEO. French President Emmanuel Macron has proposed to name Luc Remont as EDF’s (EDF.PA) next chief executive and chairman. His appointment requires approval from the French parliament.

A parliamentary source told Reuters the votes will likely come in October. “It is important that EDF be stabilized quickly to tackle the autumn and winter ahead,” the source added.

According to the Reuters wire service, Remont, 53, began his career in 1993 as an engineer at the French Defense Procurement Agency, before joining the French economy ministry in 1996. He was deputy chief of staff under finance ministers Nicolas Sarkozy and Thierry Breton.

Remont left the public sector in 2007 to work at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, where he became director of the Corporate and Investment Bank in France in 2009. In 2014, he joined Schneider Electric, becoming its executive vice president in charge of international operations three years later.

New CEO Faces a Host of Challenges to Turn EDF Around

One of his near-term challenges is to restructure the firm’s debt and to deal with operating problems with existing reactors. EDF must get its fleet of nuclear power stations ready for the winter.  Several units are shut down due to corrosion issues and safety checks.

He also has to complete the EPR under construction at Flammanville without incurring more scheduled delays and cost overruns. That’s a tall order because many of the the problems with the project are baked into supply chain issues, work force limitations due to COVID, and the fact that this is only the second EPR EDF has built.

The most significant challenge isn’t even in France.  EDF is committed to building four EPRs in the UK. Two of them are under construction at the Hinkley Point C project and two more will soon be under construction at the Sizewell C site. Funding plans for the Sizewell C project has been jolted by the decision of now former UK PM Boris Johnson to eject Chinese state owned nuclear firms from the project who had committed to taking a 20% equity stake.

EDF has agreed in principle to take over that position, and the UK government will take a major position,  but lining up institutional investors for the rest will depend on how well the government rolls out the RAB method of financing the project. It has never been tried before for a project of this size or with this much risk.

& & &

UK PM Truss and French President Macron Confirm Support for Sizewell C

(NucNet)  UK prime minister Liz Truss and French president Emanuel Macron have confirmed their support for the planned Sizewell C nuclear power station and promised to take action to confirm a joint investment decision within the next month.

Macron-Truss-October-2022-(Number10)Truss and Macron issued a joint statement in which they said they pledged “full support” for plans to build two 1600 MW EPR units at Sizewell C. It will bee developed by French energy company EDF.  The joint statement said the energy transition and decoupling from Russian hydro-carbons are common challenges.

“They confirmed the full support of the UK and French governments for the new nuclear power station at Sizewell and expect the relevant bodies to finalize arrangements in the coming month,” the statement said.

Truss, who succeeded Boris Johnson as prime minister last month, had not previously stated a clear position on Sizewell C. However, she did not object to her predecessor’s concerns about the involvement of China’s state-owned energy company CGN as part of a consortium providing funding for the preparatory work at the nuclear plant.

Johnson promised £700m of funding to get the £20 billion Sizewell C project into operation as part of a drive to improve the UK’s energy security. In January, the government announced £100m of funding to support Sizewell C’s development, with the move aimed to attract further financing from private investors. The government has already given planning consent for the project.

In June, the government published documents which showed “significant progress” towards implementing a new RAB funding model for new nuclear power stations – with negotiations continuing for Sizewell C to be the first project to use the funding method.

Industry Group Calls For Work To Begin

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the London-based Nuclear Industry Association, said Sizewell C will be one of the UK’s most important green infrastructure projects ever, and critical to the government’s plan to strengthen energy security, cut gas use and bring down bills, so this joint statement is “very welcome”.

He said: “The UK needs to urgently get on with building new nuclear capacity alongside renewables, and it’s now important that a final investment decision on Sizewell is reached swiftly so construction can begin.”

Truss and Macron met at the first summit of the European Political Community in Prague where they discussed matters for cooperation.

& & &

Romania’s Nuclearelectrica in Joint Venture for NuScale SMRs

nuscale logoNuclearelectrica and Nova Power and Gas launched RoPower Nuclear, which is a project firm for the development of small modular reactors in Romania.They plan to use NuScale’s technology to build a 462 MW nuclear power plant, with a possibility to add 80 MW in capacity from renewable energy sources.

Project firm RoPower Nuclear, owned in equal shares by Nuclearelectrica and Nova Power and Gas, has a task to deploy the first nuclear power plant made of small modular reactors (SMRs) in Romania by the end of the decade. The two companies signed the agreement on the establishment of the joint venture in the presence of Minister of Energy Virgil Popescu and United States Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy and Environment Jose Fernandez.

DoiocestiState-owned Nuclearelectrica said the power plant would use the technology from NuScale, the only SMR company that obtained design approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The site is at the former coal-fired power plant in Doicesti in Dâmbovita county in central Romania located about 90 km northwest of Bucharest. .

Nuclearelectrica and NuScale established cooperation in March 2019. The Doicesti site was selected after a study funded by a $1.2 million grant from the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA). It announced another grant in June for $14 million.

The plan is to install a VOYGR-6 model of 462 MW in total, with a possibility to supplement it with 80 MW in capacity from renewable sources, according to the announcement. The combination would make the facility a hybrid power plant.

The US Export–Import Bank (Exim Bank) has expressed interest in 2020 in financing nuclear energy projects in Romania. Analysts estimate the project could cost about $2.1 billion for the reactors alone, but non-nuclear costs could easily double that amount not including grid improvements to deliver electricity to customers

& & &

Reuter-Stokes and Paragon Energy Solutions to Deliver Nuclear Detection Technology for NuScale Power’s First SMR in Idaho

rbn logosReuter-Stokes, a Baker Hughes business, and Paragon Energy Solutions have signed a contract to design and manufacture unique neutron monitoring detectors for NuScale Power, LLC (NuScale), the only provider of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) with design approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Reuter-Stokes’ detector assemblies will be responsible for monitoring the fission rate, ensuring the production of zero-emissions nuclear energy.

The first NuScale project to use Reuter-Stokes detectors will be the Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP) in Idaho Falls, ID, with the first NuScale VOYGR SMR power plant. The instruments would also likely be specified for export related projects.

The agreement with NuScale follows a teaming agreement signed in 2021 between Reuter-Stokes and Paragon Energy Solutions that includes project development and execution in the SMR and advanced reactor markets to provide a holistic nuclear instrumentation solution. To provide the best design for each client, the technology can be customized to a user’s specific application.

“We are excited to partner with Paragon Energy and extend our cutting-edge nuclear technology to the global SMR market,” said Rod Martinez, vice president at Reuter-Stokes. The firm  offices and manufacturing plant are located in Twinsburg, OH.

“Investing for growth and working with Paragon, we aim to quickly establish Reuter-Stokes as pivotal sensor technology partners across the SMR market – we are very excited to be working with a market leader like NuScale.”

“Our partnership with Reuter-Stokes was conceived to support the industry’s technology needs and work with businesses who are helping to make nuclear energy a key component of a zero-carbon future,” said Doug VanTassell, Paragon’s president and chief executive officer.

“This deal with NuScale underlines this commitment and the work we want to continue doing, made possible by our collective collaboration.”

& & &

Japan’s Nuclear Safety Agency Will Extend Reactor Life Beyond 60 Years

(wire services) The head of Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Agency (NRA) said last week a rule that limits the operating life of nuclear power plants to a maximum of 60 years is expected to be removed from the country’s regulations.

nuclear-reactors-in-Japan.png

The possible change is in line with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s goal of extending the lifespan to reduce carbon emissions and provide a stable electricity supply.

Following the nuclear crisis triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami, Japan introduced stringent safety standards limiting nuclear reactors’ service period to 40 years in principle.

However, that period can be extended once by 20 years if safety upgrades are made and a reactor passes the regulation authority’s screening.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said it would determine the plants’ operational service per a regulation under its jurisdiction, and its plan was approved by the regulatory body. The NRA plans to create a system to ensure each aging nuclear power plant’s safety.

“We can assure you that strict regulations will never be compromised,” Shinsuke Yamanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, said at a press conference.

& & &

US Urges Ghana to Consider SMRs

(wire services) David Turk, the Deputy Secretary of the United States’ Department of Energy, is urging Ghana to opt for Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) that offer more benefits for the nuclear program.

At a symposium on nuclear energy and climate on Friday, Mr Turk said considering the option on SMRs Ghana could harness that potential and establish a hub for the manufacturing of that technology for the rest of the continent. He explained that SMRs were newer generations of reactors offering many benefits including size, cost, and construction period and produced a large amount of low-carbon electricity.

smr-vs-npp-v5_thumb.png

The symposium, organized by the School of Physical and Mathematics Science, University of Ghana, in collaboration with the US Embassy, served as a brainstorming section for research ideas on clean energy as the country inches towards energy transition.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, last month, approved the inclusion of nuclear power into the country’s power generation mix, indicating its readiness to go nuclear.

The announcement of Government’s approval, called the National Position, means the country is the first in the subregion to commit to a nuclear power program and provides enough signal to the international community and investors that it is a venture worth funding.

Ghana’s challenges to pursue nuclear energy projects are that like Kenya and South Africa, these nations struggle with debt and credit worthiness issues, along with the inability to repay loans absent a strong market for electricity and process heat. These factors raise concerns that they can guarantee the repayment of loans and provide the returns needed on investor equity. Eskom, the state owned utility in South Africa, has been hobbled in raising funds for capital projects as successive political administrations have used low rates for electricity to win votes to stay in power.

Press coverage of the event did not indicate whether Mr. Turk offered financial support for SMRs that could be exported from the US.

“I strongly believe that innovation drives more cost-effective deployment of clean energy everywhere, and the large investments in small modular reactors and other modern technologies in the U.S. should soon result in safer and more affordable nuclear power everywhere, including our key African partners such as Ghana,” Mr Turk said.

Being a former Deputy Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, he said SMRs were designed to generate affordable electric power and its components and the systems could be shop fabricated then transported as modules to the sites for installation as demand arises.

Mr Turk said the peaceful exploitation of nuclear power was in consonance with the global collective commitment to the sustainable availability of power to propel economic growth.

“Africa’s share of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions per capita is extremely low, yet Africa and her people stand to suffer from some of the most severe effects of climate change,” he stated.

Under the auspices of President Biden’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE), Mr Turk said the United States would continue to work closely with African countries to identify and deploy clean energy technologies at scale.

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