EDF creates new Nuward SMR subsidiary

30 March 2023

France's EDF says that creating a wholly-owned subsidiary will enable the Nuward small modular reactor (SMR) to meet its "next key milestones" en route to achieving first nuclear concrete in 2030.

A rendering of an SMR plant (Image: Nuward)

EDF said that, following the conceptual design phase, "Nuward will now proceed with the basic design activities to progress design maturity, leveraging the expertise and experience of EDF Group’s nuclear engineering teams, while also benefiting from the support of an international network of industrial partners".

A Design and Safety options file is scheduled to be submitted to the French Nuclear Safety Authority in July and discussions and engagement take place to assess and select possible sites for the first - reference - plant in France.

The Nuward project was launched in September 2019 by the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), EDF, Naval Group and TechnicAtome. The Nuward - consisting of a 340 MWe SMR plant with two pressurised water reactors (PWRs) of 170 MWe each - has been jointly 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.

Following its establishment the Nuward company will continue to work with its longtime partners - CEA, TechnicAtome, Naval Group - as well as its partners of the past year, Framatome and Tractebel. Its workforce is expected to rise to about 150 in its core team by 2024, with more than 600 in total including partners' staff contributing to the project.

Renaud Crassous, Nuward’s President, said the aim was to "fully integrate the SMR catalysts for success, i.e. innovation, modularisation, standardisation and series production. We are committed to increasing the speed of execution to deliver the Nuward SMR design on time to meet market expectations for first nuclear concrete as early as 2030."

Xavier Ursat, EDF Group Senior Executive in charge of Engineering and New Nuclear Projects Division, said that as a subsidiary embedded within the EDF Group, the company will be "a key enabler for a time-to-market product, providing the agility and speed required to meet the next key milestones".

The Nuward is one of a number of SMRs in development at the moment in different countries and the company hopes it will "become the European leader" in SMR technology. It has already attracted interest elsewhere in Europe, with a regulatory agreement reached last year which means that the French nuclear safety regulator and Czech and Finnish regulators are collaborating for a pilot European early joint regulatory review.

According to the French company's SMR roadmap, the phase involving the detailed design and formal application for a new nuclear facility is scheduled to begin in 2026, followed by first concrete in France in 2030 with the construction of that first unit anticipated to take about three years.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News