EDF has announced that it is adjusting its the Grand Carénage programme, which runs from 2014 to 2025, and aims at enhancing reactor safety and continuing nuclear fleet operations beyond 40 years.

In 2015, investment was estimated at €55 billion and was optimised and revised to €45 billion (€48.2 billion in current euros) in 2018. EDF said the programme’s cost today is €49.4 billion in current euros.

The new cost estimate accounts mainly for the first findings on the works to be conducted in the context of the ongoing review process related to the periodic safety review of the Group’s 900MWe reactors. The review focuses on studies, modification work and initially unplanned additional equipment seeking to improve safety levels. Moreover, the estimate factors in the expected increase in the duration of planned maintenance outages including ten-year and partial inspections. The costing also draws on prior year experience as well as the impact of the health crisis between 2020 and 2022.

EDF said that, to date, the Grand Carénage programme has made good progress with 24 ten-year inspections having been conducted at the Group’s 900MWe, 1300MWe and 1450MWe reactors. In addition, 52 of 56 emergency diesel generators have been commissioned.

The Grand Carénage programme essentially encompasses everything related to upgrading the entire fleet of 900MWe reactors at the age of 40 and extending them for 10 years, but it also includes everything related to the routine maintenance of the fleet as well as the post-Fukushima measures requested by the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN). This includes upgrades to the instrumentation & control systems, which is being carried out by Rolls-Royce.

ASN expressed concern, in its annual report presented last May, about the over-solicitation of EDF's engineering teams: “In 2019, EDF carried out the first fourth ten-yearly inspection of one of its reactors, on the Tricastin site. EDF has mobilised significant resources and this ten-year inspection has gone quite satisfactorily. ASN wonders about EDF's ability to mobilise such resources in the future for the other reactors, in particular when several fourth ten-yearly outages will take place in parallel,” ASN noted.