Despite recurring problems, EDF drives fire in corn

EDF, which is 84% ​​French state-owned, is having a black year. En difficult sur tous ses chantiers de construction de nouveaux réacteurs nucléaires, que ce soit à Flamanville en Normandie ou à Hinkley Point en Angleterre, sans oublier l’arrêt inquiétant d’un des deux EPR chinois de seulété à misété, in serviceAnd the EDF faces serious corrosion problems in some of France’s “classic” reactors. A phenomenon that led to the closure of 12 reactors when part of its fleet was already closed due to the postponement of maintenance programs due to the health crisis. The result: 27 reactors have now been shut down, nearly half of the French nuclear fleet. In addition to these industrial pitfalls, the state has forced it to increase the amount of nuclear electricity it has to sell to alternative suppliers, its competitors, under the Arena mechanism. As a result, the EDF expects, in total, €28.5 billion less than the Ebidta for 2022.

Despite this critical situation, the group expects milder weather and is optimistic about future nuclear projects. During a press conference, Xavier Orsat, executive director in charge of engineering and new nuclear projects, outlined the upcoming bright spots. The first one relates to the EPR Flamanville website. Launched in 2007, it was scheduled to enter service after five years, but the plant has not yet produced any electrons.

Flamanvil in a “pre-operative” state.

After multiple delays causing an increase in the bill, the fuel loading is now scheduled for the second half of 2023. “We have a good level of confidence in the performance of this schedule.”reassured Xavier Ursat, even if “It’s a small margin table.”, He confessed. Even the latter estimated that the factory was in good condition “Pre-op. »

Before loading the fuel, the EDF must finish the last large welds of the main secondary circuit, which was prone to defects. En parallèle, l’électricien doit réaliser un certain nombre de finitions avant de pouvoir procéder aux essais d’ensemble, attendus pour le début de l’année 2023. Le chargement du combustible, dernière étape avant la misdeuit en service year. Requires a green light from the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN), the sector policeman.

In this interval, EDF plans to correct a mistake noted last year at EPR 1 in Taishan, China, in which corroded springs on the bottom of fuel rod assemblies damaged the sheath where the radioactive pellets are located. To prevent this phenomenon from happening again in the Flamanville EPR, the company intends to conduct a heat treatment on the springs in question. This solution is still the subject of an investigation with ASN.

If approved, it will require the renewal of fuel kits. EDF did not want to report the cost associated with this resupply, but did confirm that this maneuver could be carried out within the stated timeline. “The remark made in Taishan does not question the design of the EPR”, Xavier Orsat argued.

Simplified design to speed up

Beyond the Flamanville EPR, the EDF intends to incorporate all feedback to implement the broad nuclear plan that the re-elected president wants. It includes the construction of six new EPR reactors, the first of which could come out of the ground in 2035. An extension of the program, whose feasibility has not been confirmed by an electrician, could lead to the construction of eight additional reactors. by 2050.

a timing » Very narrow due to the size of this exceptional industrial site. To meet the deadlines, EDF explains that it has already consulted with companies in the sector in order to obtain it as soon as possible. To speed up the pace, the power company is also relying on the simplified design of the new generation of EPRs, known as EPR 2. The idea is to keep the same major equipment in EPR 1 and simplify the smaller components (pumps, valves, etc.) to reduce the number of references. A way, according to EDF, to increase chain volume, improve quality and avoid inventory issues, while lowering costs.

Internally, the EDF has reorganized it with the appointment of Nicola Macho

“This industrial program is fundamental to our country. It is up to us to be prepared to employ it in the best conditions, particularly by respecting schedules and costs,” Referred CEO in charge of engineering.

Penly’s first pair of new EPRs

The company also works with the sector, universities and Pôle Emploi to find the necessary skills. In fact, the creation of the six EPR units is supposed to create 30,000 jobs. Ten thousand permanent jobs are also planned for the operation and maintenance phase. EDF’s Lyon branch should quickly double in size to house over 2,000 people, most of whom are engineers.

The group also took over the National Committee for Public Debate regarding the construction of the first pair of reactors in Benley, Normandy. “We imagine a public debate that could begin in the fall,” Xavier Orsat explained.

Nuclear: Despite the difficulties of the EDF, Normans continue to bet on EPR at Penly

However, the official investment decision will ” sometimes “ Because it requires the approval of Brussels to finance this huge project, which necessarily requires a large participation of the state, and a special regime for the commercialization of new nuclear energy. ‘It’s been more than a year’Xavier Orsat said.

At the same time, EDF intends to win major international contracts. In India, the construction of six EPRs is at stake.

Technical discussions are nearing conclusion. The CEO said. It is hoped that a binding agreement between the parties will be concluded by the end of the year or the beginning of 2023. The EDF has also responded to a call for bids in the Czech Republic and submitted a bid to the Polish government for the construction of four EPRs. For the UK, an electrician hopes to win a contract to build two other EPRs at Sizewell, in southeast London, in addition to the two contracts planned at Hinkley Point.

EDF is not short of ambitions. On a further horizon, the company intends to position itself in the broad market for small modular nuclear reactors, the popular SMR (Small Modular Reactor), which aims to replace power plants that run on coal, fuel oil or gas, in a decarbonization strategy. “In the countries that already have nuclear power in the world, there are already 3 million megawatts of power plants of this type that must be replaced between 2030 and 2050.”Xavier Orsat said.

As SMR projects multiply around the world and competition intensifies, EDF intends to get the most out of the game thanks to Project Nuward, which is being implemented under a consortium. The electrician has just received a “prior authorization” from three European nuclear police, the French, Finnish and Czech regulators. This approach, according to the company“The best way to try to chart a course to make Nuward is European SMR”. “This project is progressing very satisfactorily”Xavier Orsat concluded. Target: Starting construction sites from 2030. Will EDF succeed in meeting deadlines?