In this article, we would like to shed some light on some of the reasons why the EPR reactors have suffered construction delays and are not encountering the commercial success that was expected. It should be noted that the EPR reactor is still new, and that like all new and large construction project, “infant diseases” are to be expected, and that the reactor’s long term commercial viability should not be written off. On top of this, we would also like to point in this article however that the reactor design’s philosophy was not conducive of short construction timings. It is difficult not to acknowledge that the EPR is a complex and costly reactor. However, it is also clear that all its ills cannot be linked to its design. There is little doubt that in countries such as France or the UK, follow-on EPR reactors will be faster to build than the first-of-a-kind reactors currently being built or in the planning (Flamanville in France, and Hinkley Point in the UK). Nevertheless, Areva should ensure that going forward, the reactor’s construction and costs are reduced and better managed. In order to do so, standardization could be increased by reducing the technological choices and aligning regulatory frameworks. Indeed, it is striking that three European regulators, i.e. the Finnish (STUK), French (ASN) and English ones, have different design requirements.
Energy Collective 23rd May 2016 read more »