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Big News for Big Iron in UK and Czech Republic

Dan Yurman's picture
Editor & Publisher NeutronBytes, a blog about nuclear energy

Publisher of NeutronBytes, a blog about nuclear energy online since 2007.  Consultant and project manager for technology innovation processes and new product / program development for commercial...

  • Member since 2018
  • 1,442 items added with 1,002,408 views
  • May 31, 2020 7:48 pm GMT
  • French Utility EDF has Submitted an Application to Build Two 1600 MW EPRs at the Sizewell C Site in the UK
  • The Government of the Czech Republic Will Lend its State Owned Utility CEZ up to 70% of the Cost of a New Full Size Nuclear Power Station,
    • Buy the Electricity from it at a Fixed Rate, and
    • Release a Tender for Bids by the end of 2020 with a Decision in 2022

Other Nuclear News

  • NRC Approval Of New Framework ‘Paves Way For Next Generation Reactors’
  • Terrestrial Energy IMSR Supplier Forum Hosted by Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries

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French Utility EDF Submits an Application to Build Two 1600 MW EPRs at the Sizewell C Site in the UK

The French state-owned utility EDF has submitted an application to UK regulators to build two massive 1600 MW EPRs a the Sizewell C site in the UK at an estimated cost of $22 billion or about $6,800/Kw. When completed it will be the second pair of EPRs in the UK delivering in combination 14% of the electricity needed in the UK. The first two units are under construction at the Hinkley Point C site and are expected to come online in 2025.


The application, which goes by the bureaucratic title of “Development Consent Order, was delivered to the UK Planning Inspectorate after a two-month delay due to the corona virus crisis.

New Financing Method

EDF is requesting financing using a method that will allow it to be paid as progress is made in building the units. The plan will provide for cheaper financing and lower costs. The method, call the “regulated asset base” or RAB, has been successfully used for other very large infrastructure projects in the UK including the massive flood control measures on the Thames River. The use of this method, EDF said, will insure that the majority of the financing will come from UK investors.

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the UK Nuclear Industry Association, said told World Nuclear News in July 2019 the RAB model “promises to make a substantial contribution” to reducing the cost of building the new nuclear capacity the country needs if it is to meet its climate change targets.

“This approach is already well established with investors in large infrastructure projects, and will reduce the cost to consumers as we replace our ageing fleet. Doing so is fundamental to meeting net zero, and we need to get on with it now,” Greatrex said.

China’S Role in the UK Nuclear New Build

Additional financing will come from China General Nuclear (CGN) which will provide a 20% stake worth an estimated $3.6 billion. CGN has already taken a 33.5% stake in the Hinkley Point C project.

Additionally, CGN has a commitment from the UK government to build two Chinese designed Hualong One 1000 MW PWR type reactors at the Bradwell site. The design is currently working its way through the four-year generic design assessment process in the UK Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR). In February 2020 ONR reported on its website that the Hualong One had completed three of the four phases of the GDR.


Controlling Construction Costs

According to EDF, construction of the two EPRs at Sizewell will create 25,000 jobs and a permanent workforce of 900 plant operations staff. About 70% of the supply chain procurement are slated for UK firms.

EDF said Sizewell C will be a near replica of Hinkley Point C in Somerset. As a near replica of Hinkley Point C, EDF as said said that Sizewell C will be cheaper to construct and finance.

“It will benefit from the experience of Hinkley Point C’s engineers, contractors and suppliers and lessons from other nuclear projects, including operational EPR plants. It can also repeat the huge boost for industry, jobs and skills already happening due to Hinkley Point C’s construction.”

The public review of the EDF application for Sizewell C will begin after an internal acceptance review and public notice. Public consultations are likely to take place this Fall. EDF has not yet released a construction start date for the project.

Czech Republic Government to Finance 70%
of New Nuclear Plant at Dukovany

According to wire services, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on May 29 that his government will provide a loan to state-owned Czech utility CEZ to cover 70% of the cost of a new 1200 MW nuclear power station at the utility’s Dukovany site. The utility is then expected to provide 30% of the remaining funding.

The cost of the project has a preliminary price tag of $6.7 billion or about $5,600/Kw. A tender for award of the construction and EPC contracts is expected to be released by the end of 2020, or earlier, with announcement of the winning bidder by the end of 2022.

So far six firms have expressed interest in the project – China Nuclear General, EDF, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power, Rosatom, the Atmea consortium of Mitsubishi and EDF, and Westinghouse.

CEZ officials told wire services that they are working with the government on a plan to buy electricity from the completed power station at a fixed rate of return and that if the market price drops below it, the government will make up the difference. If the price goes above it, the utility will not gain from that increase.

The utility may have to buy out the shares held by outside investors as some of them have objected to the financial risks from cost overruns.


NRC Approval Of New Framework ‘Paves Way
For Next Generation Reactors’

(NucNet)  The U.S Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) voted unanimous approval of a licensing framework for advanced non-light water reactors. The decision paves the way for regulatory reviews to be aligned with the safety characteristics and simplified designs of Generation IV advanced reactors.

On May 26 the NRC voted 4-0 to approve the implementation of a more streamlined and predictable licensing process for advanced non-light water reactors.

  • For background see “A Regulatory Review Roadmap For Non-Light Water Reactors” ML17312B567 
  • For all NRC documents related to the decision, see VR-SECY-19-0117: Technology-Inclusive, Risk-Informed, and Performance-Based Methodology to Inform the Licensing Basis and Content of Applications for Licenses, Certifications, and Approvals for Non-Light-Water ReactorML20147A149

This approach is consistent with the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA), which was passed last year by Congress and signed into law in January 2020. The legislation calls for the development of a licensing process for advanced reactor developers.

The NRC decision received two important statements of support from the industry.

Doug True, chief nuclear officer at the trade group Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), said: “A modernized regulatory framework is a key enabler of next-generation nuclear technologies that can help us meet our energy needs while protecting the climate.”

True said a well-defined licensing path will benefit the next generation of nuclear plants, which could meet a wide range of applications beyond generating electricity such as producing heat for industry, desalinating water, and making hydrogen.

He added that it will help regulators develop a new rule for licensing advanced reactors, as required by NEIMA.

Marilyn Kray, president of the American Nuclear Society, said earlier this year that the passage of the NEIMA legislation was a “big win” for the nation and its nuclear community.

“By reforming outdated laws, the NRC will now be able to invest more freely in advanced nuclear R&D and licensing activities. This in turn will accelerate deployment of cutting-edge American nuclear systems and better prepare the next generation of nuclear engineers and technologists.”

Background Document

Last February the NRC released its ‘Advanced Reactors Program Status’ paper, aimed toward informing the public of its progress and providing an overview of factors related to the licensing and deployment of advanced reactors.

The paper discusses the progress made in six strategic areas: (1) staff development and knowledge management, (2) analytical tools, (3) regulatory framework, (4) consensus codes and standards, (5) resolution of policy issues, and (6) communications. ML19331A034 

Terrestrial Energy IMSR Supplier Forum Hosted by
Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries

Terrestrial Energy executives discussed plans for developing the Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR®) power plant and opportunities for suppliers on a May 26 webcast hosted by the Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries (OCNI).

The Terrestrial Energy IMSR Supplier Forum was led by OCNI President and CEO Ron Oberth. After an introduction by Dr. Oberth, Robin Manley, Vice President, New Nuclear Development at Ontario Power Generation (OPG), discussed OPG’s plans to review and assess SMR designs for the utility’s future use.

Terrestrial Energy CEO Simon Irish provided an overview of the development of the 195 MW IMSR® Generation IV advanced nuclear power plant and its progress to market in Canada and internationally.

Terrestrial Energy said at the forum it is on track to commission with first utility customers the first commercial IMSR power plants in the late 2020s. The IMSR was the first advanced reactor to complete Phase 1 of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Vendor Design Review in November 2017, and the company expects to complete that process in 2021.


Conceptual image of Terrestrial Energy Molten Salt Nuclear Reactor Design and Applications

“Timely supply of IMSR components and services is now a key objective of IMSR development,” said Mr. Irish, CEO of Terrestrial Energy.

“We are grateful to the OCNI for its supply chain outreach and the opportunity to provide an update on IMSR® progress to more than 200 companies in the nuclear supply chain.”

Terrestrial Energy’s Bill Smith, Senior Vice President, Operations and Engineering, and Iftikhar Haque, Head of Supply Chain, discussed the company’s procurement strategy, IMSR supply chain development, and opportunities for Canadian companies to participate.

The speakers also highlighted how exports of IMSR Generation IV power plants would create large additional opportunities for Canadian nuclear companies. An overview of Terrestrial Energy’s Quality Assurance program was provided by Cathy Clavel, QA Manager, and Mr. Smith.

Video _Terrestrial Energy IMSR Shown at Supplier Forum

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jun 1, 2020

China’S Role in the UK Nuclear New Build

Additional financing will come from China General Nuclear (CGN) which will provide a 20% stake worth an estimated $3.6 billion. CGN has already taken a 33.5% stake in the Hinkley Point C project.

This may be off base, but reading this leads me to wonder-- do you have any sense that the recent Executive Order on foreign equipment being used on the U.S. grid might likewise lead to a posturing in the U.S. where this type of arrangement the UK is undergoing with China would be pushed away from the realm of possibility in the states? Not sure there's any such arrangements to begin with, I'm just wondering if this shift in policy will extend to financing arrangements like this and perhaps impact the future market in any way

Dan Yurman's picture
Dan Yurman on Jun 1, 2020

U.S. policy regarding procurement of equipment from China for US use unlikely to have any bearing on UK nuclear new build. 

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jun 1, 2020

I understand that :) The cooperation between the UK and China just prompted me to wonder about if there were potential similar US/China partnerships that might have happened in the nuclear realm that would have been derailed by the U.S. policy-- sorry my train of thought wasn't clear there!

Dan Yurman's picture
Dan Yurman on Jun 1, 2020

TerraPower's deal with China was cancelled.

Susan Brissette's picture
Susan Brissette on Jun 3, 2020

Interesting financing methods being proposed by EDF for nuclear. Is this used outside UK for nuclear infrastructure?

Dan Yurman's picture
Dan Yurman on Jun 3, 2020

The RAB method so far is unique to the UK.

Susan Brissette's picture
Susan Brissette on Jun 4, 2020

Thanks Dan. 

michael scarangella's picture
michael scarangella on Jun 15, 2020

UK should build the KERENA BWR (Framatome/Siemens)... building those giant 4 loop EPRs is going to be a financing nightmare. I have no doubt building BWR would be more cost-effective.

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