European regulators to cooperate on Nuward SMR licensing

06 June 2022

France's Nuward small modular reactor (SMR) design will be the case study for a European early joint regulatory review led by the French nuclear safety regulator with the participation of the Czech and Finnish nuclear regulators, EDF has announced.

The design concept of the Nuward SMR (Image: TechnicAtome)

The review - to be carried out by France's Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN), Finland's Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) and the Czech State Office for Nuclear Safety (SÚJB) - will 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, EDF noted.

"Through technical discussions, this collaboration will help ASN, STUK and SÚJB increase their respective knowledge of each other's regulatory practices at the European level and improve Nuward's ability to anticipate the challenges of international licensing and meet future market needs," it added.

EDF said the implementation of SMRs and their competitiveness in the energy market requires not only the development of some key technology innovations, but also a serial production process and a clear regulatory framework.

"Harmonisation of regulations and requirements in Europe and beyond is thus an essential element to support aspirations of standardisation of design, in-factory series production and limited design adaptations to country-specific requirements," EDF said. "By this action EDF confirms its leading position in fostering European cooperation and supporting the acceleration of international SMR licensing, thereby creating momentum towards harmonisation of SMR regulations."

"EDF is pleased to advance its Nuward reactor as a test-case for this early joint SMR review which is pioneering multi-country European regulatory cooperation," said Xavier Ursat, EDF Group Senior Executive Director in charge of Engineering and New Nuclear Projects. "I warmly thank the French safety authority ASN and its European peers STUK and SÚJB for leading this approach and I confirm EDF's commitment to bringing its contribution to accelerate SMR deployment worldwide and play an essential part in achieving the net-zero target by 2050."

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 CEA has contributed to the development of the Nuward design with its skills in research and qualification, while utility EDF has helped through its experience in systems integration and operation. Naval defence company Naval Group has contributed its structures and modular experience to the project, with TechnicAtome providing its compact reactor design experience.

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.

Nuward is currently in the conceptual design phase, which focuses on choosing the major technical features while delivering real competitive advantages. Belgian engineering firm Tractebel was recently contracted to conduct studies for the completion of the conceptual design of "the first SMR in the European Union".

The next phase of the project, the basic design completion, is expected to start in 2023 and to be completed by 2025. The design should be in the "advanced concept phase" between 2025 and 2030, during which time Nuward is expected to be certified and the supply chain developed.

Construction of a demonstration Nuward SMR is expected to start in 2030. The construction of that unit is anticipated to take three years.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News