The IAEA has teamed up with the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) and dozens of other nuclear organizations to help countries ensure that nuclear power is developed and deployed safely, securely and sustainably.
The complex requirements for establishing, operating or expanding a nuclear power programme are best met with concerted and coordinated global efforts. To that end, the IAEA is participating in the New Unit Assistance Working Group (NUAWG), a collaborative body established by WANO that includes the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and operators from over 50 organizations from across the global nuclear community.
NUAWG recently released a Roadmap to Operational Readiness, which complements the IAEA Milestones Approach for nuclear newcomers and expanding countries, to help new operating organizations build capabilities and readiness ahead of their nuclear power plant (NPP) start-up. The Roadmap provides guidance to countries building their first nuclear power plant and to expanding countries building a plant with a new operator or adding a plant in an existing environment.
“The Roadmap delivers strong guidance for all new nuclear units, wherever they are located in the world. It contains operating experience and best practices from a wide range of new build projects,” said Ingemar Engkvist, Chief Executive Officer at WANO. “It is a notable achievement by the New Unit Assistance Working Group-the result of a successful collaboration between new unit owners, operators and international experts from WANO, the IAEA and EPRI.”
The Roadmap builds on a 2019 White Paper by EPRI, the IAEA and WANO on Nuclear Industry New Build / New Entrants, which focused on new nuclear programmes from the perspective of nuclear newcomers (‘new entrants’) and new builds in expanding nuclear countries or utilities. Some 30 countries are considering or embarking on nuclear power and have been working with the IAEA to introduce this low carbon energy source in a safe, secure and sustainable way.
“Highly qualified operators are important for the safe and secure operation of the nuclear fleet,” said Mikhail Chudakov, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy. “Cooperation between the IAEA, WANO and the other organizations in this area is important for the whole industry. The Working Group provides an opportunity to collaborate on issues that Member States and the nuclear industry face and to identify best practices to date.”
The IAEA provides NUAWG with information on IAEA assessment and assistance activities as well as guidance and technical publications including IAEA Safety Standards, IAEA workshops, training courses and meetings related to newcomer and expanding countries. The Agency’s contribution allows for coordination with WANO’s London headquarters and regional centres to develop collaborative support for topical events and future publications.
The IAEA supports newcomers with advice and capacity building under the Milestones Approach, which enables the sound development of a nuclear power programme across three phases. Under the related Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) service, 30 peer review missions to 21 Member States have been conducted to date.
WANO offers a New Unit Assistance (NUA) service to its members during the transition from construction to commissioning and all the way through to the operation of a nuclear power plant to ensure that new units are operated safely and reliably.
The cooperation between IAEA and WANO will help to build competences in operating organizations during the development of the nuclear power programme. Ideally, the activities outlined in the Roadmap should start before beginning construction on a new unit to gain maximum benefits for safe and secure operations.
IAEA support to Member States
The IAEA has worked with newcomer countries for over a decade and recently the United Arab Emirates became the first one to start operating an NPP. Belarus, which hosted an INIR mission this year in which WANO participated, is also close to operating its first reactor. Bangladesh and Turkey are constructing their first NPPs, while Egypt plans to start construction next year, pending regulatory approval.
The IAEA also provides engineering, operation and maintenance support to the 31 countries currently operating or expanding existing programmes, including contracting and supply chain management, construction readiness, instrumentation and control (I&C) and optimization of operation and maintenance of NPPs. The IAEA carries out a variety of review and advisory services such as the construction readiness review (CORR), the independent engineering review of I&C systems (IERICS), and the operational safety review (OSART) as well as the Pre-OSART ahead of new NPP commissioning and operation. In addition, IAEA support also covers important areas such as human resource development, training, stakeholder involvement, and management and leadership of nuclear power programmes.