France to rule on nuclear fleet lifespans by end 2020; Canada launches reactor operations center

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

French nuclear regulator to rule on lifespan extensions by end 2020

ASN, France's nuclear safety authority, expects to issue its generic ruling on the lifespan extension of EDF's French nuclear fleet at the end of 2020, Bernard Doroszczuk, the French government’s nominee to head the ASN, said October 10.

French state-controlled EDF operates all 58 of France's nuclear power reactors, representing 63 GW of installed capacity.

Some 34 of EDF's 58 reactors will soon reach 40 years of operations and the ASN has repeatedly delayed its ruling on lifespan extensions. Last November, the ASN delayed the publication of its life extension report from 2018 to 2020-2021.

“Based on the information at my disposal, the generic ruling should be issued at the end of 2020,” Bernard Doroszczuk said at a French Senate committee hearing about his nomination to replace outgoing ASN chief Pierre-Franck Chevet, Reuters reported.

President Macron has said he would use the ASN's report on lifespan extensions to decide France's nuclear closure plans.

Macron's government is expected to publish its long-term energy strategy at the end of this month, providing more detail on planned reactor closures.

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

UK opens world's first decommissioning PhD research center

The UK has opened the world's first PhD research center for decommissioning technologies in Cumbria, North West England, the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) announced October 2.

The Centre for Nuclear Innovation in Nuclear Decommissioning (CINDe) is supported by NNL, decommissioning Site Licence Company (SLC) Sellafield Ltd, and a network of UK universities.

Cumbria is home to a number of UK nuclear facilities, including Sellafield, the U.K.'s largest nuclear decommissioning programme and host of the U.K.'s only nuclear fuel reprocessing facility.

                     UK nuclear sites monitored by regulator

                                 (Click image to enlarge for England & Wales)

Source: UK Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR). To see a larger version of the entire UK map, see ONR's website.

PhD students at the center will be able to test their research in industrial settings, Professor Anthony Banford, Chief Technologist for the Waste Management and Decommissioning Directorate at the NNL, said in a statement.

“With the demand for innovation within the energy sector greater than ever before coming at a time when funding across all sectors is increasingly limited, there has never been a greater need to find innovative ways to deliver services across the nuclear sector," Banford said.

Over the last 12 months, students from around the world have been submitting their research ideas.

So far, 10 students have been accepted to carry out their PhD studies at the center, NNL said.

Canada launches operations and maintenance research center

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) has launched a new research center to support long-term operations of nuclear power plants.

The new Centre for Reactor Sustainability (CRS) will aim to lower nuclear plant costs and improve reliability through innovative technologies and inspection services, CNL said in a statement October 3.

“Sustainability is about more than licence renewal or licence extension; it’s about economic competitiveness as well,” Kathryn McCarthy, Vice President of Research and Development at CNL, said.

Key focus areas will include:

• Aging Management, including Post-Irradiation Examination

• Fuel Characterization

Operational Support and Failure Response

• Chemistry Control, Monitoring and Optimization

• Specialized Inspection and Maintenance Tooling

The CRS will aim to provide resources to operators "with the agility and speed demanded by today’s commercially-focused organizations," CNL said.

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