Electricity

French EDF is one step closer to building Nuward small modular reactor prototype

French EDF moves ahead to small modular reactor Nuward prototype

Photo: Nuward

Published

April 5, 2023

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Published:

April 5, 2023

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Aiming to advance the development of a small modular reactor (SMR), French nuclear operator Électricité de France – EDF founded a subsidiary called Nuward. The project is now entering the basic design phase, with a plan to start the construction of the first unit in 2030. Nuward is included in the Nuclear Energy Agency’s (NEA) SMR monitoring list.

France’s nuclear power operator EDF is developing its Nuward SMR project. It has just founded a wholly-owned subsidiary of the same name. Nuward is starting the basic design activities, after the conceptual design phase has been completed. EDF’s new subsidiary said it aims to begin constructing its first reference plant in France as early as 2030.

Nuward intends to begin the construction of the first plant in France in 2030

The company’s SMR would consist of two reactors fully integrated into a nuclear facility partially buried in the ground. Nuward opted for the pressurized water reactor (PWR) technology. The electricity generation capacity will total 340 MW, or two times 170 MW.

The firm said it would work with French authorities to identify potential locations for a reference nuclear facility of the type.

The technology is being developed to replace old coal, oil, and gas power plants worldwide that have high CO2 emissions, the company said. SMRs are envisaged to contribute to hydrogen production, district heating, and desalination. They are also complementary to renewable energy sources, according to Nuward. The firm added that SMRs are also suitable supplying electricity to remote areas and industrial locations with high power consumption.

Nuward claims that SMRs can be safely located near populated places, or industrial locations

The first SMR plant is planned to have 540 MW in thermal energy capacity, while the projected service life is longer than 60 years. Nuward claims the reactors can be safely located near populated places or industrial sites.

According to the development plan of EDF’s new subsidiary, the beginning of the project’s commercialization starts in 2025. The detailed design and application for permits for the new nuclear plant are due to start in 2026, followed by breaking the ground ideally in 2030. The estimated construction time is three years.

Nuward said the project has the support of the EDF Group and international networks of partners: CEA, TechnicAtome, and Naval Group, which participated in the development of the technology. The firm also plans to continue cooperation with Framatome and Tractebel, which joined the project last year.

In the process of licensing the SMR, Nuward reached an agreement with three European regulators: the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN), the Czech State Office for Nuclear Safety (SUJB), and the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK).

The Nuclear Energy Agency runs global SMR monitoring

The Nuclear Energy Agency – NEA, which operates within the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), has started global monitoring of SMR projects, including the EDF’s subsidiary company. NEA said the French government provided more than EUR 500 million for Nuward’s development.

The agency is currently assessing 21 SMR projects using six parameters: financing, fuel availability, licensing readiness, location, social engagement, and supply chain.

The NEA Dashboard covers:

  • ACPR50S – China General Nuclear Power Group
  • ACP100 – China National Nuclear Corporation/Nuclear Power Institute of China
  • ARC-100 – ARC Clean Technology
  • Aurora – Oklo
  • BWRX-300 – GE-Hitachi/Hitachi-GE
  • CAREM – Argentina’s National Atomic Energy Commission
  • eVinci – Westinghouse Electric Company
  • Hermes – Kairos Power
  • HTR-PM – Tsinghua University Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technology
  • KLT-40S – Rosatom
  • MMR – Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation
  • Natrium – TerraPower
  • Nuward – Electricité de France
  • RITM-200N – Rosatom
  • RITM-200S – Rosatom
  • Rolls-Royce SMR – Rolls-Royce SMR
  • SEALER-55 – LeadCold Reactors
  • Stable Salt Reactor – Wasteburner – Moltex Energy
  • U-Battery – Urenco
  • VOYGR – NuScale Power
  • XE-100 – X-energy
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