French consortium enters SMR race; Saudi Arabia and South Korea sign SMR deal

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

The Nuward SMR design being developed by a French consortium and Westinghouse.

French consortium enters SMR race

A French consortium has announced plans for a new small modular reactor (SMR) in the 300-400MW range, based on French pressurized water reactor (PWR) technology and a SMR design by Westinghouse.

The consortium, which includes the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), EDF, Naval Group and TechnicAtome says the Nuward project would aim for completion by the late 2020s.

They say the Nuward design has been developed to meet growing world demand for decarbonized, safe and competitive electricity generation and will benefit from more than 50 years of PWR experience in France. The CEA has contributed to the development of the Nuward design, while utility EDF has contributed experience in systems integration and operation. Defence company Naval Group lends its structures and modular experience to the project, with TechnicAtome providing compact reactor design experience.

CEA and EDF have opened discussions with US-based Westinghouse to explore potential cooperation on SMR development.

The consortium aims to complete the basic design of the Nuward between 2022 and 2025, with construction of a demonstration SMR scheduled for 2030.

South Korea and Saudi Arabia sign SMR deal

South Korea and Saudi Arabia have signed an agreement to work together on the commercialization of the Korean SMART SMR design. The agreement will see licensing and construction of the first unit taking place in Saudi Arabia.

Under the Memorandum of Understanding signed on September 17, the two countries will work together on the refining the design, construction and operation, as well as promoting SMART to other Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian countries. In a separate agreement, a joint nuclear energy research center will be established in the Kingdom this year.

SMART is a 330MW PWR with integral steam generators and advanced safety features. The unit is designed for electricity generation (up to 100 MWe) as well as thermal applications, such as seawater desalination, with a 60-year design life and three-year refuelling cycle.

Developed by the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI), SMART received standard design approval from the Korean regulator back in mid-2012, and had previously hoped to build a demonstration plant by 2017. South Korea and Saudi Arabia first signed an MoU to promote SMART in March 2015, and in September that year contracts were signed to support development of the SMR. Since then, the two countries have invested US$130 million in the project.

Three Mile Island unit 1 closes after 45 years

Three Mile Island unit 1 has been shut down after 45 years of nuclear power generation due to economic pressures. The 819 MWe PWR was taken offline on September 20 after a site record 709 days of continuous operation.

"Today we celebrate the proud legacy of TMI unit 1 and the thousands of employees who shared our commitment to safety, operational excellence and environmental stewardship for nearly five decades," said Bryan Hanson, Exelon senior vice president and chief nuclear officer.

"At a time when our communities are demanding more clean energy to address climate change, it's regrettable that state law does not support the continued operation of this safe and reliable source of carbon-free power.

"It's critical that we continue to pursue policy reform to prevent other carbon-free nuclear resources from being pushed out of the market by rules that fail to evenly value clean energy resources and at the same time allow emitting resources to pollute for free."

Nuclear Energy Insider