Tractebel increases cooperation in Nuward SMR project

19 June 2023

Belgian engineering firm Tractebel has signed a framework cooperation agreement to strengthen and extend its collaboration with France's Nuward and EDF in the development of the Nuward small modular reactor (SMR) technology.

The signing ceremony, featuring (from left to right) Tractebel's SMR Europe Project Manager Sébastien Pageaud, Nuward Executive President Renaud Crassous, Tractebel Chief Global Nuclear Office Denis Dumont and Tractebel CEO Philippe Van Troeye (Image: Tractebel)

Tractebel - a subsidiary of France's Engie - noted that its collaboration with EDF on the Nuward SMR project started in 2021. 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. Under the contract, Tractebel experts will also manage interfaces with the different Nuward partners to ensure that the data received or provided are communicated clearly and in a timely fashion. They will also be responsible for the civil engineering preliminary studies and the evaluation of the costs related to the company's scope. In addition, and in conjunction with the other Nuward partners, Tractebel will draw up the site layout.

EDF, Nuward and Tractebel have now decided to deepen and extend their collaboration in the long run.

To support the development of the Nuward SMR, Tractebel will allocate more resources in all fields of nuclear engineering. Around 50 engineers from Tractebel are currently working on the Nuward SMR project, with this number expected to double in the coming years.

"Tractebel has been leading innovation in SMRs for the past five years," said Denis Dumont, chief global nuclear officer at Tractebel. "We are convinced that this technology will play a key role in the energy transition in Europe and worldwide. The cooperation agreement with Nuward reinforces our commitment to the development of the first EU SMR technology.

"Tractebel brings a European and industrial perspective to Nuward. Our engineers have worked on projects in several European countries to investigate SMRs' potential to decarbonise heavy industries and retrofit coal power plants. We can leverage this experience to extend the industrial applications of the Nuward SMR technology and support Nuward in its projects outside France to help Europe reach carbon neutrality by 2050."

"Tractebel has a proven track record of supporting nuclear stakeholders in their complex projects," added Nuward Executive President Renaud Crassous. "That is why the company is a key partner for Nuward, alongside the other partners. The competition for skilled workers has become fierce within the nuclear industry. Building a Europe-wide team for the Nuward SMR project is crucial to support our ambition in positioning Nuward SMR as the European benchmark for small modular reactors."

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.

In March this year, EDF created a wholly-owned subsidiary - named Nuward - and began the basic design phase of the Nuward SMR project. This phase is expected to be completed by 2025. Nuward's 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.

A Design and Safety options file is scheduled to be submitted to the French Nuclear Safety Authority next month.

According to EDF's SMR roadmap, the phase involving the detailed design and formal application for a new nuclear facility is scheduled to be carried out between 2025 and 2030, during which time the design is expected to be certified and the supply chain developed. First concrete for the first unit in France is scheduled in 2030, with the construction anticipated to take about three years.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News