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Areva meets UK suppliers on massive new build N-plan

ArevaNuclear reactor designer Areva met with potential UK suppliers in Birmingham at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham recently, which was the official start of Areva’s efforts to engage with the latter.

Areva’s EPR reactor is one of two reactors expected to be built in the UK as part of the Government’s £40bn new build nuclear programme.

Areva has already hooked up with construction partners Balfour Beatty and Vinci Construction to deliver new nuclear plants in the UK. French utility firm EDF, which recently acquired British Energy, will use the Areva model to deliver the UK’s first new build nuclear reactor in the UK’s programme. Work on site is expected to start in 2013. EDF plans around four nuclear reactor plants, worth up to £4bn each.

While Areva would supply the large components of the pressurised water reactors using an established group of over 40 suppliers, it wishes the remaining 70 percent of engineering of the nuclear island to come from the UK.

Areva wants to establish a group of approved suppliers in time for a rash of orders in 2012, with the first coming in 2011. The 120 firms attending the meeting were invited to begin relationships with Areva.  The company emphasized its global order book and the opportunities for a vendor to supply for EPR units worldwide, but the size of the potential UK EPR fleet was put at 10 reactors.Four are to come from the Electricité de France (EdF) project with British Energy (BE), while one joint venture could lead to two more, and another joint venture, two to four more.

It is known that Germany’s RWE and EOn have a joint venture, as do Britain’s Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), Spain’s Iberdrola and France’s GdF Suez. Areva slides, however, also showed Spain’s Union Fenosa and Endesa as investors linked to EPR.

The UK units are to be built as a fleet using common suppliers for all the reactor islands. Some of the major items Areva will shop for include fuel handling equipment, polar cranes, main pumps, waste management equipment, diesel generators and a host of cabling, sensors and control kit.

As the designer, Areva would take overall control of the construction of the nuclear islands of new EPR plants, while strategic partners or consortium partners could lead on the turbine island or civil works. Areva already has partnerships with Rolls-Royce for engineering, manufacturing and the supply chain, and with a Balfour Beatty/Vinci consortium for construction, civil, mechanical and electrical engineering.

Government commitment

UK energy minister Mike O’Brien again leant his voice to the push for new nuclear. Encouraging the firms present to take part, he said: “I want everyone in this room to know about the government’s commitment. We took the decision, based on the science of climate change, to decarbonise our electricity system.”

Responsible governments, O’Brien said, must take action to diversify energy supplies and “the fundamentals of nuclear help with these challenges.”