EDF has submitted the Nuward small modular reactor (SMR) to the France's Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN – Nuclear Safety Authority), marking the start of the pre-licensing process. The safety options file (DOS) outlines the safety objectives, the global design features, and the main principles for operation and risk management for NUWARD SMR. It allows for early feedback from ASN, in preparation for the future new nuclear facility application, which is required to start building a plant in France.
The NUWARD SMR comprising a 340 MWe SMR plant with two pressurised water reactors (PWRs) of 170 MWe each was developed using France's experience in PWRs. The technology is expected to replace old high CO2-emitting coal, oil and gas plants around the world and support other applications such as hydrogen production, urban and district heating or desalination.
The project was launched in September 2019 by the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA -Commissariat à l'énergie Atomique et aux Énergies Alternatives), EDF, Naval Group and TechnicAtome. In May 2022, Tractebel, a subsidiary of France's Engie, was contracted by the Centre National d'Equipement de Production d'Electricité (EDF's engineering centre) to conduct conceptual design studies. These included parts of the conventional island (turbine hall), the balance of plant (water intake and servicing system) and the 3D modelling of the buildings housing these systems. Tractebel will also be responsible for the civil engineering preliminary studies and the evaluation of costs. In June 2023, Tractebel signed a framework cooperation agreement to strengthen collaboration with NUWARD and EDF. NUWARD was formally launched in March as EDF Group’s subsidiary dedicated to the development of its SMR.
As the future operator of NUWARD SMR plants in France, EDF submitted the safety options file to ASN, based on elements prepared by the NUWARD team and its partners. The target is to begin construction of the first NUWARD SMR plant in France in 2030. Renaud Crassous, Executive President of NUWARD said ASN’s assessment and the recommendations “will be essential to consolidate the development of our NUWARD SMR”. He added that the aim is to become the European reference for SMRs by building a reference plant in France.
The company’s efforts include engaging with several European nuclear safety authorities to conduct a joint early review of its SMR design, led by ASN. In June 2022, EDF announced that the Nuward design would be the case study for a European early joint regulatory review led by ASN with the participation of Finland's Radiation & Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) and the Czech State Office for Nuclear Safety (SÚJB).
Image: Basic design of a Nuward SMR (courtesy of EDF)