France to close 14 reactors by 2035; Bruce Power to build NuScale SMR business case

Our pick of the latest nuclear power news you need to know.

France to close 14 reactors by 2035, President says

France is to close between four and six nuclear reactors by 2030 and a total of 14 reactors by 2035, President Emmanuel Macron said November 27.

State-controlled EDF operates France's 58 nuclear power reactors which are located at 19 sites and represent 63 GW of installed capacity.

In 2015, France's previous Socialist government set a target of reducing nuclear power from 75% to 50% by 2025. In November 2017, Macron's government postponed the target date for this reduction to around 2030-2035, citing grid needs and carbon reduction restraints.

Macron has decided to follow a "pragmatic" approach and close the two 900 MW reactors at Fessenheim by the summer of 2020 as planned, then close up to four further reactors by 2030, depending on changes to the energy mix in France and neighboring countries, the President said in a long-awaited energy strategy speech.

Some 14 reactors will be closed by 2035 to reduce the share of nuclear power to 50%, the Macron said.

     France's operational nuclear plant sites

Source: World Nuclear Association (WNA).

Macron has pledged a rapid buildout of renewable energy to replace the nuclear power capacity. By 2030, France will triple onshore wind power capacity and will increase solar capacity five-fold, the President said. France's installed wind capacity was 13.8 GW at the end of 2017, while solar capacity was 8 GW .

France will also launch four offshore wind tenders by the end of Macron's five-year term in 2022, he said.

Macron also called on EDF to prepare a plan for potential new nuclear capacity following the completion of the 1.65 GW Flamanville EPR plant in northern France.

"This must all be in place by 2021, so that the choice that is presented to the French people is a transparent and enlightened choice," Macron said.

NuScale, Bruce Power to develop SMR business case

NuScale Power has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Canada's Bruce Power to develop a business case to deploy NuScale’s IPWR small modular reactor (SMR) technology in Canada, NuScale announced November 27.

Bruce Power will support evaluation, planning and licensing activities for the NuScale design, including feasibility studies for proposed SMR sites, NuScale said.

Bruce Power is Canada's largest private nuclear power generator, operating eight Candu reactors for 6.4 GW of capacity at its Tiverton site, north-west of Toronto.

The company has representatives on the advisory boards of several SMR technology companies, allowing the operator to learn about the different technologies.

                               SMR reactor types proposed in Canada

                                                             (Click image to enlarge)

Source: Canadian Nuclear Laboratories' SMR Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEOI) report (2017).

The deployment of SMR technology in Canada could complement large-scale nuclear and growing renewable energy capacity and drive Canada towards carbon reduction objectives, Mike Rencheck, President and CEO of Bruce Power, told Nuclear Energy Insider in March.

"Going forward, as we look at a pan-Canadian approach to nuclear, areas which have large population centres certainly could develop and support a Candu style reactor, but in areas that don't have transmission access as robust, or the population centres are smaller, the small modular reactor suddenly becomes a good fit," he said.

If Bruce Power commits to SMR development, it would maintain an owner-operator role and work in partnership with technology suppliers and construction contractors, Rencheck said.

Earlier this month, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) agreed to support NuScale's pre-licensing vendor design review (VDR) in Canada.

NuScale is currently working on a service agreement for its VDR application with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). The developer plans to go directly to phase 2 of the VDR process, which assesses new technologies for any potential fundamental barriers to licensing.

US DOE to co-fund Terrestrial SMR licensing activities

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is to provide funding to Terrestrial Energy USA to support pre-application activities for the licensing of its Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) SMR design, the DOE announced November 13.

Terrestrial Energy USA aims to deploy its first U.S. plant in the late 2020s. The company is an affiliate of Terrestrial Energy, which is developing SMR projects in Canada.

In March, Terrestrial Energy USA signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Energy Northwest on the possible siting, construction and operation of an IMSR on a site at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL).

Utility-owned Energy Northwest is already in line to be the first SMR operator in the U.S. The company will operate a 600 MW NuScale light water reactor-based SMR, which is set to be built on the INL site by 2026 for project group Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS).

"The [DOE funding] award sits on our critical path to market and advances our IMSR regulatory program in a clear and defined way," Simon Irish, CEO of Terrestrial Energy USA, said in a statement.

"On completion, it will also be an important demonstration of the viability and applicability of the regulatory framework for advanced reactor licensing,” Irish said.

Nuclear Energy Insider