Here's a new take on alternative offshore energy: a submerged nuclear power plant.
With nuclear power an increasingly attractive alternative to CO2-producing energy sources, France is seeking to be a leading player in the market for small to medium reactors (SMR's).
AREVA, a world leader in nuclear energy, has launched a program to study small reactors rated at 100 MWe with a view to rounding out its range of third-generation reactors. This study will draw on AREVA’s expertise in small shipboard reactors. In a parallel development, French naval defense specialist DCNS has announced its innovative Flexblue concept following preliminary studies lasting over two years.
Flexblue is a small nuclear power plant producing 50 to 250 MWe designed to be installed on the seafloor off the coast of maritime nations.
Hull shape: cylindrical
Length (approx.): 100 m
Diameter (approx.): 12 – 15 m
Power: 50 – 250 MWe
Design concept: small nuclear reactor + steam turbine-alternator set + electrical
equipment (electricity to be carried to coast by submarine power cables)
Mass (approx.): 12,000 tonnes
Siting: seafloor moorings at a depth of 60 to 100 m, a few kilometers off coast.
The concept is based on proven technologies that draw on DCNS’s 40 years’ experience in nuclear propulsion and submarine power plants built with AREVA as the prime contractor.It features standard subsystems integrated at shipyards and shipped to the installation site by sea.
Areva has expressed interest in Flexblue’s modularity and standardization as has utility EDF (Électricité de France), one of the world's largest generators of electricity.
DCNS will now work on the next phase of Flexblue development. with AREVA, EDF and the CEA - the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives). This will include detailed reviews of:
- technical and production options
- market potential
- Flexblue’s competitive standing compared with other sources of energy
- nuclear proliferation issues
- safety and security aspects of seafloor power plants with a view to demonstrating that Flexblue offers a level of safety comparable with that of third-generation land-based nuclear power plants.
These studies are expected to take two years.
January 24, 2011