EDF to modify Nuward design to aid commercialisation

03 July 2024

France's EDF plans to optimise the design of its Nuward small modular reactor design, focusing on existing and proven technologies. The move follows feedback from potential European customers in order to guarantee that project deadlines and budgets are met.

A rendering of a Nuward SMR plant (Image: Nuward)

The Nuward project was launched in September 2019 by the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, 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.

The Nuward SMR project has now reached the basic design phase, during which the engineering teams were able to progress on the lay-out, systems and equipment of the power plant in more detail.

"Considering the evolving SMR market dynamics and the learnings drawn from the development of Nuward SMR, the EDF Group has proactively decided to pivot its SMR product strategy," EDF said in a statement. "To address the needs expressed by the market timely and competitively, the EDF Group has decided to shift its product strategy towards the development of a design based on proven technology bricks only. This orientation will provide better conditions for success by facilitating technical feasibility."

EDF said that, together with its Nuward subsidiary, it is now "preparing the conditions for a product development leveraging the extensive technical, industrial and commercial experience cumulated so far". It said it will rely on its experience in nuclear and PWR technology.

According to Nuward's previously announced SMR roadmap, 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.

EDF did not say whether the redesign of the reactor's design would have an impact on the Nuward project's budget and timeline. It issued its statement in response to media reports that had incorrectly stated the company was dropping or suspending the project.

In June 2022, EDF announced that the Nuward design would be the case study for a European early joint regulatory review led by France's Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire with the participation of Finland's Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority and the Czech State Office for Nuclear Safety.

The main objectives of the multilateral review were to identify key issues towards the hypothetical licensing of a Nuward SMR in the three countries, and to identify divergences and convergences between the regulatory frameworks in these countries - it was not intended to replace any future licensing review of any participating regulator.

Three more regulator - Poland's National Atomic Energy Agency, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority and the Netherlands' Authority for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection - joined the second phase of the review.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News