Bureau Veritas to help ThorCon develop Indonesian plant

14 December 2022

France-based testing, inspection and certification services provider Bureau Veritas has entered into an agreement with ThorCon for the technology qualification and subsequent development of a 500 MWe floating ThorCon molten salt reactor (TMSR-500) to be deployed in Indonesia.

Rendition of two ThorCon 500 MW MSR power plants, once installed and connected to the grid (Image: ThorCon)

Under the agreement, Bureau Veritas will support ThorCon through the technology qualification process, both for the nuclear reactor itself and for its encapsulation (enclosed safe compartmentalisation allowing the replacement of depleted fuel) and integration with the hull systems.

Experts from Bureau Veritas' Nuclear Certification Department and from the Marine & Offshore Division will collaborate throughout the process. A key area of work will be to identify the applicable standards, codes and class rules, potential gaps with those currently available and the development, if needed, of new guidance notes and rules.

The scope of the agreement also includes the potential development and deployment phases once the technology qualification is completed. At this stage, it is anticipated that the technology qualification process will take a minimum of three years and, if successful, the deployment phase would require an additional two years.

"Nuclear power is increasingly seen as one of the means to achieve global decarbonisation and the 1.5°C objectives," said Laurent Leblanc, Senior Vice President Technical & Operations at Bureau Veritas Marine & Offshore. "New technologies, such as molten salt reactors, open opportunities for the deployment of nuclear energy, power generation in the marine environment being an example.

"At Bureau Veritas we are proud to be at the forefront of safe innovation, supporting pioneers like ThorCon, by helping them assess the feasibility of new nuclear technology development up to their industrial application. Our role is to assess and address risks to ensure such technologies can be deployed with the highest safety standards. This project is very exciting as it can be a stepping stone to other applications such as the generation of hydrogen offshore and even nuclear ship propulsion."

ThorCon 500 MW MSR power plant in ship hull cutaway view (Image: ThorCon)

In October 2015, Martingale of the USA - developer of the ThorCon thorium molten salt reactor - signed an agreement with the Indonesia Thorium Consortium (comprising state-owned companies PT Industry Nuklir Indonesia (INUKI), PT PLN and PT Pertamina) to build a ThorCon reactor to generate electricity.

In March 2017, Pertamina, INUKI and PLN completed a preliminary feasibility study on the ThorCon proposal which was positive, and the consortium then sought approval from Indonesia's National Atomic Energy Agency (Batan). The company says that after testing in a full-scale pre-fission test facility, the phase 1 plan is to build a 500 MWe ThorConIsle unit (two modules) to prove the design, and then proceed to shipyard construction of further units to provide 3 GWe in the country.

In July 2019, the state shipbuilding company PT PAL Indonesia, signed an agreement with ThorCon to conduct a development study and build a 500 MWe plant. PAL would build the reactor as EPC contractor and put it on a 185-metre-long barge built by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering in Okpo, South Korea. The completed plant would then be towed to a site in Indonesia, ballasted to the seabed and connected to the grid.

In January this year, Spanish engineering firm Empresarios Agrupados (EA) was named as architect engineer for the TMSR-500 to be deployed in Indonesia. As architect engineer, EA will support ThorCon across a broad range of activities, including project management, document control, code compliance, site preparation, pre-construction activities and licensing agreements. Additionally, the company will also provide engineering services to ThorCon throughout the lifecycle of the project, from design engineering to construction, operation and eventual decommissioning.

ThorCon has entered into discussion with the Indonesian province of Bangka-Belitung, the State Electricity Company PLN, and the Nuclear Energy Regulatory Agency (Bapeten) regarding potential sites for the demonstration and the final installation of a 500MW power plant.

According to ThorCon, only 24 months will be required from the start of construction before each plant will be capable of sending electricity to the grid. This approach, it says, also allows for scalability of the ThorCon plants, with as many as 10 GW of power able to be produced annually per shipyard or assembly line once production is ramped up. The estimated cost of a two-unit (1 GWe) plant is USD1.2 billion.

"ThorCon has developed a fouth generation advanced nuclear reactor design that solves the most perplexing problem of conventional nuclear power: excessive cost," said ThorCon CEO Dave Devanney. "ThorCon is initially implementing its technology in Southeast Asia where the need for low-cost dispatchable carbon-free energy is urgent. Providing a practical clean solution to Southeast Asia's growing energy needs will significantly slow global warming and climate change."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News