Empresarios Agrupados contracted for first ThorCon reactor

26 January 2022

Spanish engineering firm Empresarios Agrupados (EA) has been named as architect engineer for the 500 MWe floating ThorCon molten salt reactor (TMSR-500) to be deployed in Indonesia.

A floating power plant based on two 500 MWe ThorCon reactors (Image: ThorCon)

EA said the contract - signed on 8 November - "marks a commitment to long-term collaboration" between it and USA-based ThorCon. "While ThorCon will be providing its molten salt reactor technology, EA will provide both its pool of 1250 engineers as well as its 50 years of experience with nuclear projects."

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. EA will work in collaboration with other partners already selected by ThorCon.

"It will be an excellent opportunity to work with ThorCon in a technology on which we have extensive experience through our involvement in the last 50 years in nuclear projects, including Gen IV reactors, as well as, in the last years, in renewables, where molten salt systems are also being implemented," said María Teresa Domínguez, who will be leading the project in the advanced projects division of Empresarios Agrupados. "Our mission then will be to transfer this Empresarios Agrupados experience to the TMSR-500 reactor to succeed in their objectives of performance and economics."

"We are delighted to join forces with Empresarios Agrupados," said PT ThorCon Power Indonesia CEO David Devanney.

"They are a world leader in nuclear engineering and have extensive experience in plant design, procurement, construction and operation that will be invaluable to the TMSR-500 programme. This is a defining moment for the project and bodes well for its successful completion."

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 will then be towed to a site in Indonesia, ballasted to the seabed and connected to the grid.

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.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News