Tagged: Areva

Nuclear Power: UK ‘must learn’ from French reactor concerns

The nuclear reactor building under construction at Flamanville in Normandy

Lessons should be learned from problems with a French reactor that is very similar to one planned in the UK, says Britain’s nuclear safety regulator.

French regulators have been informed of “manufacturing anomalies” in components “particularly important for safety” at Flamanville 3 power plant, in Normandy.

The reactor is similar to one planned for Hinkley Point, in Somerset.

EDF Energy – involved in both projects – said a new series of tests was under way and it was working with regulators.

An investigation revealed potential weaknesses in the steel used to make a safety casing around the reactor at Flamanville, near Cherbourg.

Areva, which is building Flamanville 3 for EDF, says it is the first plant in the “new French reactor fleet”, and it includes Areva’s new EPR reactor.

The UK Office for Nuclear Regulation said it was aware of the French Nuclear Safety Authority’s concerns about the reactor and would continue to liaise with French authorities.

“The UK currently have no EPR reactors but expects that learning from Flamanville 3 will be taken into account in the manufacture of components intended for the planned new reactor at Hinkley Point C,” it said.

These safety issues in France could lead to even further delays in the construction and completion of the proposed £24.5bn Hinkley Point nuclear power plant.

It has already been delayed by months as the government negotiated a contract for EDF to supply electricity at a guaranteed price for 35 years.

The final decision on the project is expected in the coming months but is also delayed by Britain not having a fully functioning government – something which could be exacerbated if talks on forming a government drag on after the election.

These safety concerns in France are not expected to set the Hinkley Point project back too much but they may spook the Chinese companies set to invest in the project.

In a joint statement, Areva and EDF said new tests were under way on the “reactor vessel head and bottom”.

It said this followed initial tests which had shown “greater than average carbon content” – something French regulators said caused “lower than expected mechanical toughness” in the steel.

EDF and Areva added: “Teams are working to perform the additional tests as soon as possible, following approval by the French Nuclear Safety Authority on the test conditions, and to provide the safety authority with all the necessary information to demonstrate the safety and quality of the corresponding equipment.”

The components in question have not yet been fitted at Hinkley, but it would cost money and could delay the project if they had to be entirely re-made.

Source: BBC News


Flamanville start-up put back one year

The EPR under construction at Flamanville in northern France is now expected to begin operating in 2017, EDF has announced. The company attributed the further delay to the delivery of certain components and regulatory issues.

Flamanville EPR - September 2014 - 460

The scene of the Flamanville EPR construction site in September 2014 (Image: EDF)

“Preparatory work in connection with the project review that will take place at end of November with all suppliers has shown a shift in the construction schedule,” EDF said on 18 November. It said that the plant is now scheduled to start in 2017 instead of the earlier planned 2016.

EDF said the delayed completion of the Flamanville EPR results from “difficulties encountered” by supplier Areva in the delivery of certain pieces of equipment and the “implementation of the regulation on equipment under nuclear pressure (ESPN).”

According to EDF, Areva has had problems delivering the reactor vessel head and the internal structures of the vessel. It said that Areva has also provided an update on the ongoing analysis performed on the steam generators’ welding defect, on qualification tests of the pressurizer valves, and on a detailed metallurgical analysis of the vessel head material.

Areva suspends outlook

The announcement of the further delay in construction of the Flamanville EPR came as Areva said it was suspending its financial outlook for 2015 and 2016.

Areva said the suspension was the result of several factors. These include the rescheduling of the completion of the Olkiluoto EPR and uncertainty about when it would receive payments from its customer, TVO. The rescheduling of other new nuclear start-ups was also a factor, as was the continued shut down of Japan’s reactors.

The company said, “In the framework of the ongoing budget process, Areva is currently working on an enhancement of its performance plan to adapt to market conditions which remain unfavourable.”

With regards to problems in implementing ESPN standards, EDF said that this particularly applies to “a set of assembly [sic] carried out by Areva and its subcontractors.”

“This new information will be shared with all suppliers and will be integrated in the construction schedule, with a view to adapt and coordinate the work on site,” EDF said. The forthcoming project review, it added, “will allow, with the group of subcontractors, to define accurately the consequences of the information now available to the group in order to take all the necessary decisions for the completion of construction.”

Construction work began on the 1650 MWe unit at the Normandy site in December 2007. EDF is architect engineer of the project, while Areva is contributing the nuclear steam supply system and Bouygues Construction is leading the civil engineering consortium. The dome of the reactor building was put in place in mid-July 2013, while the reactor vessel was installed in January. The reactor was originally expected to start commercial operation in 2013, but its expected start-up was later pushed back to 2016.

EPRs are also under construction at Olkiluoto 3 in Finland and Taishan 1 and 2 in China. Olkiluoto 3 has been under construction since 2005 and has seen several revisions to its start-up date, which is now expected by 2018. Taishan 1, which has been under construction since 2009, is expected to start up in 2016, while Taishan 2 is scheduled to begin operating a year later.

EDF said, “In spite of these construction contingencies, EDF reaffirms its commitment to new nuclear in France, China and the United Kingdom.”

Source: World Nuclear News

Chinese Premier expected to sign UK nuclear deal

Chinese Premier expected to sign UK nuclear deal

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at Downing Street in January 2011, when he was Vice Premier. Image: Thinkstock
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at Downing Street in January 2011, when he was Vice Premier. Image: Thinkstock

The Chinese Premier is expected to sign a deal for China’s investment in a new British nuclear power plant this week.

ELN understands China’s senior politician, Li Keqiang, who is in the UK for a state visit with Prime Minister David Cameron is likely to put pen to paper on Anglo-Chinese nuclear co-operation.

This could include support for the £16 billion Hinkley Point C project.

China’s National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and China General Nuclear Corporation (CGN) have agreed to back the project with EDF Group and AREVA, in a consortium called NNB GenCo.

However the Chinese firms have yet to cement any deal.

The Asian superpower is building 18 nuclear plants and a deal with the UK would give it a foothold in Europe to sell its nuclear expertise.

Britain – which has not developed its own nuclear technology for decades and will rely on French and US-Japanese designs in future – would benefit from this Chinese experience.

Read more here http://www.energylivenews.com/2014/06/16/exclusive-chinese-premier-hoped-to-sign-uk-nuclear-deal/?utm_source=feedly&utm_reader=feedly&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=exclusive-chinese-premier-hoped-to-sign-uk-nuclear-deal

Source: Energy Live News


Nuclear News Round Up (14th – 17th Apr 14)

Russian state nuclear firm in talks to build power station in the UK

Russian state nuclear firm in talks to build power station in the UK

Rosatom meeting Whitehall officials but experts say a Russian VVER reactor is unlikely to open in UK for at least 10 years.
EDF Energy's Hinkley Point B nuclear power station

Hinkley Point is being built with French and Chinese money. Now the Russians want to invest in UK power. Photograph: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

Britain is in talks with the Russian state nuclear company about building a nuclear power station in the UK, an official said on Tuesday.

Hergen Haye, head of new nuclear development at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), told students at Edinburgh University that active discussions were taking place in London after a memorandum of understanding had been signed with Russia. “I can tell you that, behind closed doors and with microphones switched off, there are interesting debates happening in Whitehall,” he said. “Russia wants to build a nuclear power station in the UK.”

Haye chairs a UK-Russian working group on nuclear power, and was in Russia recently for discussions. Haye regards the Russian VVER reactor proposed for the UK as “perfectly safe”, but he cautioned that there would be problems convincing the public that a deal with Russia was acceptable, especially given the current crisis in the Crimea. “It’s a long road, a very long road,” he said.

He offered his personal view that a Russian nuclear station in the UK may be “a bridge too far – at least for the next ten years.” But he stressed that it wasn’t his decision to make.

A memorandum of understanding between DECC and the Russian state nuclear corporation, Rosatom, was signed in September 2013. It agreed a programme of co-operation “designed to be the most effective means of enabling Rosatom to prepare for entry into the United Kingdom civil nuclear market.”

The plan was to give Rosatom access to the UK government’s watchdogs, the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency, so that it could understand British regulatory and licencing requirements. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills “will have detailed discussions with Rosatom to facilitate commercial links with United Kingdom’s industry,” the memorandum said.

Rosatom has already formed a partnership with the British nuclear engineering company, Rolls Royce. “The participants hope that this relationship will lead to joint projects in the United Kingdom and overseas,” said the memorandum.

Russia is also reported to have signed a deal with the Finnish power company, Fortum. It operates two Russian VVER reactors near Loviisa in Finland.

In his lecture, Haye highlighted the difficulties of getting private companies to invest in something as commercially risky as nuclear power. He defended the £89.50 per megawatt hour “strike price” for electricity agreed with the French state nuclear company, EDF, for 35 years. This was essential to secure investment in the construction of a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset, he argued. The UK is also seeking Chinese investment in the nuclear station, and has signed a memorandum of understanding with China.

According to Haye, securing money from the Chinese was one of the remaining barriers to actually starting work on the Hinkley station. Another was winning agreement from the European Commission that the strike price deal didn’t breach state aid rules. The commission has announced that it is investigating the funding arrangements for Hinkley. Hay said he was about to embark upon a tour of European capitals to try and win backing for the UK’s position.

If Chinese funding was secured and the European Commission gave the go-ahead, the earliest work could start at Hinkley was next year, Haye said. Then it could start generating power by 2023.

A DECC spokesperson said: “Last year Russia and the UK committed to working towards greater co-operation in the field of civil nuclear. It is to be expected that government staff will have discussions about how that might develop. Any new nuclear plants will need to meet stringent UK regulations enforced by independent regulators.”

“The UK actively welcomes inward investment to our energy sector, but any energy company, nuclear or otherwise, that had an interest would need to meet all independent regulatory standards required in the UK and EU.”

Source: The Guardian

Flamanville EPR unit takes next step

Flamanville EPR unit takes next step

Construction of France’s first EPR unit at the Flamanville nuclear power plant passed another major milestone with the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) being lowered into place, according to a report by World Nuclear News.

Construction site of Flamanville 3

Construction work began on the 1650 MWe unit at the Normandy site in December 2007.  The operation to install the component – weighing more 425 tonnes, with a diameter of 5.5 metres and a height of 11 metres  took three days and was completed on 24 January.

Areva said that the emplacement of the RPV “marks the ramp-up of installation work in the nuclear island at the Flamanville EPR construction site.”

EDF is architect engineer of the project, while Areva is contributing the nuclear steam supply system and Bouygues Construction is leading the civil engineering consortium. The dome of the reactor building was put in place in mid-July 2013. The reactor was originally expected to start commercial operation in 2013, but due to delays is now expected to start up in 2016.

Source: Nuclear Energy Insider

Nuclear News Round Up (13th – 17th Jan 14)