Nuclear Power: Strategies for National Industry Involvement

Participants at the AREVA heavy equipment manufacturing site.
(Photo: EDF)

2013-11-21│ When developing and implementing a strategy for national industry participation in a new or expanding nuclear power programme, there is no "one-size-fits-all" approach. A strategic supply chain and industrial involvement policy should be based realistically on a country's socio-economic situation and the size of its nuclear power programme.

These were some of the findings of a technical meeting which the IAEA recently organized in cooperation with Électricité de France (EDF) in early November 2013.

"The supply chain for the construction of a first nuclear power plant includes partnerships between the owner/operator and its main suppliers," said Xiaoping Li from the IAEA Nuclear Power Engineering Section, who was one of the Scientific Secretaries of the meeting.

Planning and preparing for local industrial involvement, vendors' perspectives and considerations, and supply chains for operation, maintenance and waste management were the key topics discussed by some 60 experts from 26 IAEA Member States.

While advanced newcomer countries shared their experience and concerns mainly about issues of national industry involvement, countries with operating nuclear power programmes focused on supply chain issues.

Participants agreed that the owner/operator has the oversight of the project, since it is ultimately responsible for the safety of the NPP, as required by the nuclear regulator.  "It is also important to figure out how to utilize the integrated management system and quality assurance system to qualify and select suppliers," said Masahiro Yagi from the IAEA Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Group and Co-Scientific Secretary.

Thus the IAEA and meeting participants recommended that the owner/operator needs to be a 'knowledgeable customer' in order to ensure that the suppliers meet the established quality standards and the regulator's requirements for the manufacturing of structures, systems and components related to reactor safety.

Once the plant is operational, the owner/operator will have the responsibility for the sustainability of the supply chains for long-term operation. This applies to goods and services that are provided by domestic suppliers as well as those procured from foreign suppliers.

The IAEA technical meeting on Strategic Supply Chains and National Industrial Involvement for Nuclear Power was held in Beaune and at the Bugey Nuclear Power Plant, France, from 4 to 8 November 2013. In addition, a technical tour introduced participants to several French facilities that are supporting France's nuclear power supply chains.