Spanish, French and Slovakian engineering firms IDOM, Assystem and VUJE have set up the NUClear Engineering Alliance (NUCEAL) to support the development of EDF’s projects in the European Union. The joint venture was launched in Lyon, France, in the presence of French Minister for Energy Transition Agnès Pannier-Runacher.

NUCEAL’s aim is to support the numerous nuclear programmes developed or planned by EDF in the European Union (EU) such as the EPR2, EPR 1200 or the Nuward small modular reactor (SMR). Support for EDF’s UK programmes will also be considered.

EDF is developing large nuclear power plant projects, in France, in the UK and possibly in other European countries including Poland, Czech Republic or Netherlands, among others. Assystem noted that the delivery of these programmes will require strong engineering support in each country to secure the resources and expertise to build nuclear power at the pace and scale required. For development of its Nuward SMR, EDF will require a European supply chain to ensure local integration as well as management of the regulatory requirements specific to each country.

With over 12.000 employees in the EU, and with a strong knowledge of nuclear throughout the EU, NUCEAL offers the key skills and the teams organised in all the geographical areas concerned and will be able to put its global and local expertise at the service of EDF.

Each company brings its own specialism to the Joint Venture. Assystem has been delivering nuclear programmes for more than 55 years and has supported the design, construction, and commissioning of NPPs in France, Turkey, Finland, China and the UAE. Its offer in digital for complex projects is well developed and is already delivering efficiencies on nuclear power programmes. IDOM also has strong capabilities and experience in the whole nuclear power lifecycle and electricity generation, among others, developing projects in 125 countries (32 in nuclear sector) during last 65 years. VUJE brings an experienced team of technical experts with experience of developing nuclear power in Central and Eastern Europe and a capability in transmission and distribution engineering.

Assystem holds a 60% share of the joint venture, with IDOM and VUJE taking a 20% each. Their collaboration is built on providing highly compatible services and teams bringing years of combined experience delivering civil nuclear reactors new build.

Assystem Senior Vice President for Engineering Thomas Branche, said: “One of the success conditions for the numerous nuclear projects EDF has in Europe is the availability of a strong European supply chain. The creation of NUCEAL is an important milestone for the successful delivery of these programmes. This joint venture is designed to speed up this process and present a strong engineering alliance to our client helping them to mobilise quickly and offer reassurance to newcomer countries that they will have industry leading engineering partners to deliver their power plants on time and within budget.”

IDOM Managing Director for Nuclear Services Oscar Larrosa said IDOM was happy to support the Engineering Alliance. “It is a pleasure to work jointly with key and widely recognised members of the nuclear industry, to face the current global energy challenge by deploying nuclear technology in Europe and contribute to decarbonise the future economy in a safe and clean manner.”

Andrej Ziarovsky, Director for Development and International Operations of VUJE said the joint venture will “enable us to take advantage of our experience in the field of new nuclear sources completion and commissioning”. He added: “Our common ambition is to become a significant provider of engineering and especially nuclear safety services for newly built NPPs.”

In February 2022, President Macron announced plans for a nuclear renaissance in France including life extension of all existing reactors without compromising safety and construction of six new EPR2 reactors, with an option for a further eight. EDF aims to participate in tenders abroad for medium-sized reactors and is therefore developing the EPR1200 reactor. Its design is largely based on that of the larger 1,600 MWe EPR2, which is an upgrade of the current EPR design. The Nuward SMR project was launched in September 2019 by the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, EDF, Naval Group and TechnicAtome.

Image: Signing of the joint venture agreement (courtesy of IDOM)