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 Post subject: Areva's EPR troubles
PostPosted: Nov 19, 2014 3:48 pm 
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The French utility EDF has announced that the Flamanville EPR reactor in Normandy will be delayed by another year and will be connected to the grid by 2017. The problems with the EPR are causing Areva a lot of financial trouble:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/20/busin ... l-off.html

Areva's fortunes rest on the EPR and one wonders whether Areva has made the wrong bet by betting so much on this EPR design. So one could ask: what is wrong with the EPR ? Is it too large ? Is it over-engineered ? The two EPRs at Hinkley Point in England will be be built for a price of close to $ 30 bn. (!)


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 Post subject: Re: Areva's EPR troubles
PostPosted: Nov 19, 2014 5:23 pm 
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EPR is a Gen Ii PWR reaching Gen III safety by duplicating everything. It's a bad concept.


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 Post subject: Re: Areva's EPR troubles
PostPosted: Nov 19, 2014 5:48 pm 
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The EPR was discussed under the heading UK AGR. Seems to me that they have 4 trains of all safety related equipment rather than two. Although this would add to the cost, I can't see it causing the enormous delays that Areva has had with the EPR. I wonder if the delays are bureaucratic in nature rather than practical concerns.

One of the posts on UK AGR said analysis of the design was not complete which kind of shocks me. When they built the big round of reactors in the late sixties and seventies, the computer tools we have today were not even conceived of. Design should be tres facile compared to those days.


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 Post subject: Re: Areva's EPR troubles
PostPosted: Nov 19, 2014 6:35 pm 
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The EPR has a lot of active systems and is very complex, but the design is not everything.

The last nuclear power plant commissioned in France was in 1999, the design was the N4 series ( in french : " Palier N4 " ) and cost around 2000 US$ per kWe ( Flamanville's EPR is around 6500 US$ per kWe for now )

The EPR is not much more complex than the N4 series, so the design is not responsible for all the cost overruns.

In fact even the AP1000 is much more simple than the N4 series but it is still more than 4500 US$ per kWe, when you compare with the N4 series, this is incredible. In a physical point of view this doesn't make any sense.

(I am not sure for the AP1000 price, I see on internet more than 10 billions for the 2 VC summer units so 4500 US$ per kWe and 14 billions US$ for the 2 Vogtle units that's over 6400 US$ per kWe for Vogtle, someone can tell me the cost of AP1000 in US ?)

The experience in NPP's construction was lost and both EPR and AP1000 are FOAK but I don't know if it is sufficient to explain all the costs. There are also financial reasons.

Can someone explain us the cost of new reactors in the western world ?

When I imagine the future cost of the ESBWR 2 times greater than the N4 series this is really physically absurd.


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 Post subject: Re: Areva's EPR troubles
PostPosted: Nov 19, 2014 8:41 pm 
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I checked on one of these time value of money sites. A 1999 currency would be 1:1.48 since 1999. This was a UK website so I would think it would mirror the value of the Franc. The inflation of the currency does not explain the difference.

Are there new nuclear requirements that are driving the cost up? US plants used to have to buy a lot of stuff from qualified suppliers at greatly enhanced prices over the commercial grade equivalent.

With the controversy in building nukes, I'd have think they would have estimated the cost down to a gnat's lower backside and gone out for hard money bids.


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 Post subject: Re: Areva's EPR troubles
PostPosted: Nov 19, 2014 9:06 pm 
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Quote:
The inflation of the currency does not explain the difference.


Yes, I tried to check the inflation of the currency in France and it seems that the cumulated inflation between 1992 (beginning of construction) and now is around 45 %. So the inflation doesn't explain all the difference.

For the Flamanville EPR there was some mistakes made during the construction so that explains a part of the delays. When they built the plants of the N4 series they had a lot of experience but a lot of workers are retired now and the experience was lost. You can see the construction of the french fleet in this image :

http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_des_r%C3%A9acteurs_nucl%C3%A9aires_en_France#mediaviewer/File:Chrono-parc-nucleaire-francais.svg

As Fukushima happened during the construction of the EPRs and AP1000s, the regulators forced some modifications in the design, at least for the EPR, I don't know for the AP1000 as it is less vulnerable to this kind of accident.


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 Post subject: Re: Areva's EPR troubles
PostPosted: Nov 19, 2014 9:46 pm 
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That rather explodes the idea that reactors can't be built massively in parallel......
I make it 32 units under construction at one point (~1980).


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 Post subject: Re: Areva's EPR troubles
PostPosted: Nov 19, 2014 10:46 pm 
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I guess that AP1000s and ESBWRs built in series can go under 3000 US$ per kWe even in today's economical environment (and EPRs and US-APWRs around 4000 US$ per kWe), otherwise it will be difficult for the nuclear industry to expand. I think that we are going to extend all the current LWRs to 80 years lifetime in US and maybe in France also (if there is no new big accident). In France the fleet has an average age of 28 years.

I found this summary paper which compares the new LWR designs : the ESBWR, the ABWR, the EPR, the US-APWR and the AP1000 :

http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/nuclear-engineering/22-06-engineering-of-nuclear-systems-fall-2010/lectures-and-readings/MIT22_06F10_lec24.pdf


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 Post subject: Re: Areva's EPR troubles
PostPosted: Nov 20, 2014 2:52 pm 
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I think this explains most of the cost problems:
http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter9.html
The largest part of the problem has nothing to do with this or that design, but rather escalating labor costs, out of control regulatory demands and a few other nuggets.
And that's why I think the only solution that will avoid nuclear power from dying in 20-40 years are MSR reactors, since they can be designed to avoid all complex/active safety systems (even control rods aren't necessary, might be installed just to make the NRC happy, no steam generators, no low/medium/high pressure injection systems, small containment vessel, no thick piping needed).

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 Post subject: Re: Areva's EPR troubles
PostPosted: Nov 20, 2014 2:58 pm 
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Hoe do you plan on generating electricity without steam generators?
MSRs are actually more complex than a modern LWR like the now licenced ESBWR.
Also said ESBWR has no need for large piping really.


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 Post subject: Re: Areva's EPR troubles
PostPosted: Nov 20, 2014 3:26 pm 
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Its hard to get even 10% of the cost overruns explained by the complexity of the design. AP1000s are being built in the US for over 10x as much (even corrected for general inflation) as early PWRs that were much more complicated. Fukushima doesn't explain much either, that is more of a silly excuse used by some. Truth is the pre-Fukushima cost overruns were already enormous.

This is such an important question, but I've never seen a decent answer. Its really simple. In case of Hinkley Point twin EPR, 30 billion dollars is a lot of money. What's the breakdown? Who gets rich here? Is it investors raking in 20% interest rate? Things like "escalating labor costs" get bandied about but when you run the numbers it just doesn't make any sense. For example consider average of $100k/year, with say 2000 people working on the project, that is 0.2 billion/year. Ten years of that is 2 billion. Not 30. The cost of the raw materials isn't even 0.1 billion.


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 Post subject: Re: Areva's EPR troubles
PostPosted: Nov 20, 2014 5:25 pm 
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Cyril R wrote:
This is such an important question, but I've never seen a decent answer.


Hinkley really does seem to be in another universe. The Vogtle project is pretty far along. Too bad no one is friends with the Project Manager. I'm sure he has a spreadsheet with every dime on it.

Does this help, or not detailed enough?

http://www.georgiapower.com/docs/about- ... Report.pdf

You can probably get some good information here in any case. For example, financing costs in Table 8.1. And in Table 1.1 and 1.1a the Quality Assurance Compliance and some other costs are given, etc.

Just found an update (prepared in August of this year).

http://georgiapower.com/docs/homepage-p ... =lnau_box2


Last edited by SteveK9 on Nov 20, 2014 5:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Areva's EPR troubles
PostPosted: Nov 20, 2014 5:40 pm 
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I can't find the quote now, but Westinghouse stated that they expect cost reduction of around 40% from first-of-a-kind costs, for serial production of the AP1000.

$4.8B (from the Vogtle Project Report) X .6 = $2.9B ... that might start to actually look reasonable.


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 Post subject: Re: Areva's EPR troubles
PostPosted: Nov 20, 2014 6:35 pm 
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Thanks for the papers Steve.

So that's around 4200 US$ per kWe for the Vogtle AP1000 and around 2500 US$ per kWe for a serial production of AP1000s. With an increase of gas price Nuclear Energy will maybe expand in USA.


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 Post subject: Re: Areva's EPR troubles
PostPosted: Nov 21, 2014 9:24 am 
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E Ireland wrote:
Hoe do you plan on generating electricity without steam generators?
MSRs are actually more complex than a modern LWR like the now licenced ESBWR.
Also said ESBWR has no need for large piping really.

Not large piping, THICK piping.
On steam generators perhaps I used the wrong names. Both PWR and BWR have steam related safety/operational systems. Since an MSR doesn't use steam on the primary nor the secondary loop, those systems are avoided.
Perhaps you are thinking of a LFTR comparison with a LWR, I'm comparing a LWR/BWR with what we know about Terrestrial's IMSR or another DMSR (Uranium or Uranium/Thorium burner).

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