A new joint venture, known as NUCEAL, has been established by French, Spanish and Slovakian engineering firms Assystem, IDOM and VUJE to support the development of EDF's projects in the European Union and possibly in the UK.

The signing of the joint venture agreement (Image: IDOM)

The launch of the NUCEAL joint venture took place in Lyon, France, in the presence of Agnès Pannier-Runacher, France's Minister for Energy Transition.

Assystem holds a 60% share of the joint venture, with IDOM and VUJE each taking a 20% share.

NUCEAL proposes "to accompany EDF on European projects, on the various technologies that EDF proposes to its customers: EPR2, EPR 1200 or Nuward". It added: "With over 12,000 experts in the EU, and with a strong knowledge of nuclear throughout the EU, NUCEAL has the key skills and the teams organised in all the geographical areas concerned and will be able to put its global and local expertise at the service of EDF."

Each partner is said to bring its own specialism to NUCEAL. Assystem has been delivering nuclear programmes for more than 55 years and has supported the design, construction, and commissioning of power plants in France, the UK, Turkey, Finland, China and the UAE. Its offer in digital for complex projects is well developed and is already delivering efficiencies on nuclear power programmes today. IDOM also has strong capabilities and experience in the whole nuclear power lifecycle and electricity generation, among others, developing projects in 125 countries (32 in the nuclear sector) during the past 65 years. VUJE brings an experienced team of technical experts with experience of developing nuclear power in Central and Eastern Europe and capability in transmission and distribution engineering.

"NUCEAL's aim is to support the numerous nuclear programmes developed or to be developed by EDF in the EU," the partners said. "Support to EDF's UK programmes will also be considered."

EDF is developing large nuclear power plant projects in France and the UK. It could possibly also build new plants in other European countries including Poland, the Czech Republic or the Netherlands, among others.

"The delivery of these programmes will require strong engineering support in each country to secure the resources and expertise to build nuclear power at the pace and scale required," the joint venture partners said. "For the development of its Nuward small modular reactor (SMR), which is encountering growing interest from certain countries, EDF will require a European supply chain to ensure local integration as well as management of the regulatory requirements specific to each country."

"One of the success conditions of the numerous nuclear projects EDF has in Europe is the availability of a strong European supply chain," said Assystem Senior Vice President for Engineering Thomas Branche. "The creation of NUCEAL is an important milestone for the successful delivery of these programmes and the acceleration of the energy transition. With this JV we present a strong engineering alliance to our client helping them to mobilise quickly and offer reassurance to newcomer countries that they will have industry leading engineering partners to deliver their nuclear power plants on time and within budget."

In February last year, President Macron announced that the time was right for a nuclear renaissance in France, saying the operation of all existing reactors should be extended without compromising safety and unveiling a proposed programme for six new EPR2 reactors, with an option for a further eight EPR2 reactors to follow.

In order to respond to calls for tenders abroad for medium-sized reactors, EDF is developing the EPR1200 reactor. Its design is largely based on that of the larger EPR2, which is itself based on the current EPR design.

The Nuward SMR project was launched in September 2019 by the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, 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.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Thursday, 22 June 2023
Original article: world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Nuclear-engineering-alliance-formed-to-support-EDF