Electricity

EDF scraps project Nuward to turn to simpler small modular reactor design

EDF scraps project Nuward turn to simpler small modular reactor design

Photo: EDF

Published

July 3, 2024

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Published:

July 3, 2024

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French state-owned nuclear power giant EDF gave up on its original vision for an innovative small modular reactor, turning instead to proven technologies. After several years of development, it intends to thoroughly revise the Nuward design.

The only European developer of third-generation small modular reactors (SMRs) is about to formally scrap its innovative solutions after consulting regulators and potential clients. France’s state-controlled energy utility EDF acknowledged that it would turn to a more classic design. The Nuward SMR concept is seemingly too complex and expensive.

Among other in-house systems under development was an integrated boiler. Nuward was advertised as a nuclear power plant with two pressurized water reactors of 170 MW each. The thermal energy capacity would be 540 MW apiece. The SMR’s targeted lifespan was 60 years. It would take 40 months to build.

Nuward was supposed to include desalination, heat production

EDF earlier said it sees Nuward as a complementary solution to renewables. It would replace aging coal-fired power plants in the range of  300 MW to 400 MW. The company’s SMR systems were intended to supply remote municipalities and energy-intensive industrial sites where the grid capacity is limited.

The project, launched in 2019, included seawater desalination and heat production. France is making efforts to renew and expand its nuclear fleet and promote its technology throughout Europe and beyond.

EDF still aspires to get gen-3 SMR out into market

The partners in the Nuward endeavor were small reactor manufacturer TechnicAtome, EDF’s joint venture Framatome (with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries), the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), Belgium-based Tractebel and naval defense and energy developer and manufacturer Naval Group.

Nuward has reached the detailed design stage before the surprise turnaround. EDF said it would continue work on the market launch of a generation 3 small modular reactor.

It reached the decision following a review by six safety authorities, the domestic media reported, and after it received feedback from companies including Vattenfall, ČEZ and Fortum.

Only a handful of mostly pilot SMR projects are operational or under construction in the world.

Of note, Serbia and Montenegro recently signed memorandums of understanding with EDF on cooperation in the energy sector.

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