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France's EDF calls for EPR 2 civil engineering bids

Highlights

Two-unit tender seeks bids mid-October

No site named, 110 month duration

EDF wants to build in the 2020s

London — EDF has called for civil engineering bids for a pair of EPR 2-type nuclear units in France, according to a note published Friday in the EU's Official Journal.

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The EPR 2 is the successor unit to the world's most powerful reactor, the 1,650 MW EPR currently being built in Finland, France and now the UK at Hinkley Point C.

The contract on offer involves earthworks, demolition of existing structures and construction of a variety of buildings based on specifications and digitalplans to be provided by the French utility.

The units are to be built "on one of the nuclear sites in operation in France," EDF said, without naming one directly.

No monetary value was put on the services. Contract duration is put at 110 months. Bids are due by October 18, 2019. Invitations to tender would be sent out in early November.

For each unit the same buildings are required relating to the nuclear island, conventional island and balance of plant, EDF said.

In addition, some buildings would be common to both units -- including tunnels for cooling water discharge in the event a coastal site is selected.

Total concrete volume for all relevant buildings is put at 800,000 cubic meters.

EDF is developing the EPR 2 pressurized water reactor with Framatome.

The "nuclear plant of tomorrow" is a simplification of the design that has caused untold problems at Olikiluoto-3 and Flamanville-3.

"The goal of the EPR 2 project is to have a competitive model on the new production means market by 2030," EDF has said.

In September 2018, leaked French government documents indicated France would look at development of new reactors in the 2020s if they proved cost-competitive, with a levelized cost of generation around Eur60-Eur70/MWh.

At that time French regional broadcaster France 3 reported on EDF land purchases next to existing reactor sites at Belleville and Chinon, with an EDF spokesperson quoted as saying the sites could be used for unspecified future low-carbon power generation projects.

"We are seriously considering the possibility of launching new nuclear projects in France in the next decade," Cecile Laugier, VP Strategy and Environment at EDF's nuclear unit, said at the Platts European Power Summit September 2018.

"This is a decision for government, but we have the technology to do so," Laugier said.

In July, French nuclear regulator ASN said EDF had yet to identify a site for the country's first EPR 2 plant.

It said it was satisfied with most aspects of the reactor design, which is to include a single-wall containment area with an additional internal layer of protection, but the regulator would need changes if and when an application was made.

This would involve tighter requirements on primary and secondary cooling pipe systems (a clear reference to problems at Flamanville-3), as well as on the risk of attack, fire and explosion, ASN said.

-- Henry Edwardes-Evans, henry.edwardes-evans@spglobal.com