Even if, globally, the French nuclear fleet is quite young, EDF has begun to prepare the conditions of the renewal of his PWR fleet. The EPR nuclear plant has been designed for this renewal.
This design takes into account all the previous experience, not only of the French nuclear programme but also of the German realisations (French N4 series as far as Germany’s Konvoi design). In particular the safety authorities of both countries have strongly interacted to take advantage of the innovations and conceptual dispositions of the fleets in operation. Nearly all the European utilities have been involved to express common requirements. Evidently the conception of the EPR includes the return of experience of all the incidents and accidents so long as they justify new approaches and solutions improving safety and providing new margins for operational purposes. This includes significant progress in economics, and reduction in radioactive waste. Its level of safety is particularly high, including systems backed up in quadruple and the ability to provide a range of solutions for scenarios of total safety function loss or to contain a melt-down, even if there is a very low probability of that occurring. The EPR has also been designed to be exceptionally resistant to outside aggressions, such as the impact of large commercial aircraft.
EPRs are being built at two sites, one in Olkiluoto, Finland and the other in Fla – manville, France. Many other projects have been already finalised or are under discussion with customers all other the world.
EPR is considered as the reference solution for the renewal of the French PWR Fleet; the modalities of that renewal (number of plants, calendar for replacements, localisation etc.) will be adapted to the energy demand but also in good adequacy to the life-extension programme.
This renewal will also take into account the opportunity (or the necessity) to introduce FBR for a better management of fissile resources. Such an opportunity shall be considered as far as this kind of GEN IV plants will reach an industrial maturity. The decision to operate an industrial prototype around 2020 represents a key event on that path.