Prelicensing process for Nuward SMR begins

21 July 2023

EDF, as the future operator of the potential first Nuward plant in France, has submitted the safety options file for the small modular reactor (SMR) to the country's nuclear safety regulator, the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN).

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

The safety options file is a document that presents the safety objectives, the global design features, and the main principles for operation and risk management for the Nuward reactor. It allows for early feedback from ASN, prior to the future new nuclear facility application required to start constructing a plant in France.

EDF said the submission of the file "is an essential step to prepare and secure the licensing process for the first Nuward SMR plant in France, for which construction is aimed to start in 2030".

"We are thrilled to enter the pre-licensing process and we look forward to the assessment and the recommendations that will be expressed by the French Nuclear Safety Authority. These will be essential to consolidate the development of our Nuward SMR," said Renaud Crassous, president of the recently-created EDF subsidiary Nuward. "As part of our strategy to support energy transition all over the world and become the European reference for SMRs, building a reference plant in France will bring the demonstration of Nuward SMR performance and competitiveness."

Nuward said it is "advancing its international deployment strategy by fostering strong collaboration with essential global stakeholders". The company is engaging with several European nuclear safety authorities to conduct a joint early review of its SMR design, led by ASN.

In June last year, EDF announced that the Nuward design will be the case study for a European early joint regulatory review led by ASN with the participation of Finland's Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) and the Czech State Office for Nuclear Safety (SÚJB). It noted the review would be based on the current set of national regulations from each country, the highest international safety objectives and reference levels, and up-to-date knowledge and relevant good practice.

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.

Belgian engineering firm Tractebel - a subsidiary of France's Engie - last month signed a framework cooperation agreement to strengthen and extend its collaboration with Nuward and EDF in the development of the Nuward SMR technology. In May 2022, Tractebel was contracted by the Centre National d'Equipement de Production d'Electricité - EDF's engineering centre located in Tours, France - to conduct conceptual design studies for parts of the conventional island (turbine hall), the balance of plant (water intake and servicing system) and the 3D modeling of the buildings housing these systems. It will also be responsible for the civil engineering preliminary studies and the evaluation of the costs related to the company's scope.

According to Nuward's 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.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News