1. AREVA AND MHI RELATIONSHIPS
1.1. WHY AN AREVA & MHI JOINT VENTURE TO DEVELOP A NEW REACTOR?
In the mid-2000s, the nuclear market was highly favorable for medium-size reactors. At that time, AREVA and MHI were respectively developing market-ready EPR™ and APWR reactors in the high-power range. Thanks to their longstanding and successful collaboration, they decided to combine their respective competences and resources to rapidly develop and put to market an advanced medium-size generation III+ reactor, the ATMEA1 reactor, to complete their own reactor portfolio.
1.2. DID AREVA AND MHI COLLABORATE PREVIOUSLY?
Yes, AREVA and MHI have been successfully collaborating for many years. They have a long-standing history of cooperation in a number of areas, notably R&D, nuclear fuel-cycle activities (front-end, spent fuel treatment plants, component supply and MOX fuels) but also in manufacturing heavy equipment, such as RPV (e.g. MHI manufactured the OL3 EPR™ RPV).
This long-standing and well-established relationship ensures optimal project performance and a strong, integrated team.
1.3. HOW ARE RESPONSIBILITIES AND SCOPE OF WORK DIVIDED AMONG ATMEA, AREVA AND MHI AS PART OF THE JOINT VENTURE?
ATMEA is a 50/50 joint venture. Responsibilities, scope of work and strategic decisions are equally shared and managed by the ATMEA Management Board. ATMEA is a project company with an in-house project management capacity. For project execution, ATMEA relies on AREVA and MHI’s resources and expertise.
2.1. HOW CAN ATMEA MANAGE TURN-KEY PROJECTS?
ATMEA is a project company with an in-house project management capacity. For project execution, ATMEA relies on AREVA and MHI’s resources and expertise.
2.2. WHO WILL BE THE ARCHITECT-ENGINEER FOR ATMEA’S PROJECTS?
Depending on the project, an architect-engineering company (architect-engineer) may be appointed to support ATMEA project activities. In this case, the architect-engineer will be selected on a case-by-case basis.
2.3. DOES ATMEA INTEND TO COOPERATE WITH LOCAL COMPANIES (A/E, ENGINEERING, SUPPLIERS, ETC.)?
Implementing a nuclear construction program in a country is a huge and costly long-term investment and has to comply with the country’s broader industrial strategy. To ensure such projects deliver economic benefits and support the local industry’s development, the involvement of a local supply chain has to be anticipated and implemented to the maximum extent possible. ATMEA fully supports this involvement.
2.4. WHO AMONG AREVA AND MHI WILL MANUFACTURE AND SUPPLY HEAVY COMPONENTS, TURBINE ISLAND, FUEL ASSEMBLIES, I&C, ETC.?
Generally speaking, the scope allocation between ATMEA and other partners involved as part of the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract is defined during contract negotiation. For ATMEA components sub-contracted to AREVA and MHI, the scope-sharing between AREVA and MHI is defined on a case-by-case basis. It depends mainly on economical, geographical and political criteria.
2.5. HOW MANY ATMEA1 REACTOR PROJECTS CAN ATMEA HANDLE CONCURRENTLY?
Both AREVA and MHI have important engineering and manufacturing capacities, with extensive human resources and workshops in France and Japan. These resources can be increased by subcontracting certain components to reliable external partners/suppliers. ATMEA can leverage its parent companies’ strong supply chain and/or partnership agreements, especially relating to long lead material suppliers for key components. Based on these capacities, several projects could easily be handled in parallel, both in France and Japan.
3. Market and Competition
4. ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE & FINANCING
4.1. IS THE ATMEA1 REACTOR COMPETITIVE?
The ATMEA1 reactor was designed based on extensive experience gained through developing a large PWR reactor fleet. As a result, engineering studies have been optimized and many technology and economic improvements have been included in the design to make it competitive in the international market.
4.2. HOW DOES ATMEA INTEGRATE LESSONS LEARNED FROM CONSTRUCTING PAST NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS?
ATMEA relies on AREVA and MHI resources and expertise for developing the ATMEA1 reactor project. Through this channel, ATMEA benefits from a unique project delivery experience and best practices in all fields of a new builds project. All lessons learned in licensing, knowledge management, project organization, engineering, supply chain, installation, procurement, and construction are continuously integrated to achieve delivery excellence.
5.1. WHAT IS A PROVEN AND EVOLUTIONARY DESIGN?
The ATMEA1 reactor’s evolutionary design integrates operated, licensed and/or verified technologies, components and systems. They are derived from AREVA’s and MHI’s very large reactor fleets for which these technologies, systems and components have been licensed and/or have acquired more than several thousands of reactor years of experience. The ATMEA1 reactor is an evolution of existing PWR and the latest generation III+ designs.
5.2. WHAT ARE THE MAIN FEATURES OF GENERATION III+ REACTORS?
Today, several generations of nuclear reactors are commonly distinguished from the first generation, called generation I (GEN I) to the latest-developed generation, called GEN III+ reactors. GEN III+ integrates not only top-level safety features but also significant economic improvements compared to the generation II and generation III designs. GEN III+ reactors are proven designs with improved safety and economic benefits that, in western countries, would have come into operation after 2010.
5.3. WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PASSIVE AND ACTIVE SYSTEMS?
Passive systems rely on the laws of physics (e.g. gravity, thermal conduction or convection) to perform their function, without the intervention of motor-driven devices, like active systems. It is claimed that potential causes of failure, such as power failure, do not exist when passive safety is provided, but passive devices remain subject to other kinds of failure, such as mechanical or structural. Therefore, passive safety is not synonymous with inherent safety or absolute reliability. Currently, the most-advanced reactor models feature both active and passive safety systems, but in variable proportions. The ATMEA1 reactor offers a good balance of both systems.
5.4. HOW DOES THE ATMEA1 REACTOR ADDRESS FUKUSHIMA-TYPE HAZARDS?
After Fukushima, ATMEA assessed the consequences of such extreme external hazards through sequence analysis of the ATMEA1 design. The analysis was performed following recommendations provided by WENRA (Western Nuclear Regulatory Association) and ENSREG (European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group). This thorough and deterministic approach, which consisted in postulating the successive failures of defense lines and assessing the impact on plant behavior, enabled the ATMEA1 reactor to improve the robustness of its design. The analysis and its conclusions have been reviewed by the French Safety Authority, which recognized them as satisfactory.
5.5. WHAT ARE THE CODES AND STANDARDS THAT HAVE BEEN USED FOR THE ATMEA1 DESIGN?
The ATMEA1 reactor is designed according to the US NRC regulations. It also takes into consideration Japanese and French regulations, and has been designed to meet European Utilities Requirements (EUR). As a result, it has generation III+ reactor safety features.
5.6. IS THE ATMEA1 REACTOR ALREADY LICENSED BY A NATIONAL SAFETY AUTHORITY?
In 2008, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) review concluded that the ATMEA1 reactor addresses the IAEA’s Fundamental Safety Principles and demonstrates a consistent safety approach in line with the more detailed NPP Design Safety Requirements.
In 2012, the French Safety Authority (ASN) concluded that the ATMEA1 reactor design’s safety objectives are satisfactory and in compliance with French technical guidelines.
In addition, the ATMEA1 reactor review process conducted by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) was completed in 2013 and concluded that the ATMEA1 design has no outstanding issues and is therefore ready for licensing and construction in Canada.
5.7. HOW DOES THE ATMEA1 REACTOR ACHIEVE 37% THERMAL EFFICIENCY?
The ATMEA1 reactor benefits from the latest technologies developed and implemented by MHI and AREVA, thereby ensuring the best thermal efficiency possible for the power generation cycle. Specifically, the ATMEA1 reactor’s steam generator technology grants the highest steam pressure at turbine inlet. Associating the ATMEA1 reactor with a high-efficient turbine generates a thermal efficiency of around 10% higher than that of the operating NPPs. This directly reduces the fuel and generation cost, as well as the amount of spent fuel and waste throughout the lifecycle.
5.8. WHAT ARE THE OPTIMAL CONDITIONS FOR ACHIEVING AN AVAILABILITY FACTOR OF MORE THAN 92%?
The ATMEA1 design ensures an optimal availability factor, as well as an outstanding ease of operation and maintenance, through the following dedicated features:
- Power maintenance capability for critical systems: This contributes to shortening outage durations, and helps the operator’s maintenance planning and cost reduction by leveling maintenance workload.
- Two-room containment concept: This contributes to shortening outage durations and also reducing occupational exposure.