For those who cook, build, design, create – are your current creations exact replicas of the first ones you ever made? Or have you tweaked that beloved recipe, used better ingredients, refined techniques, or found better tools to improve your creations?
So it is with the AREVA U.S. EPR™, an evolutionary design that incorporates more than 40 years of lessons-learned from construction and operating experience with nuclear plants from around the world. As we all know, incorporating lessons-learned is not a one step, one time activity. It needs to be a continuous, living process that requires the participation of the entire organization, top to bottom, constantly looking for ways to improve. It is a behavior that becomes second nature. In this way, each U.S. EPR™ that is built is a beneficiary of lessons-learned from all of those that were built before it. Here’s the plan UniStar is implementing:
First, we’re learning from our parents – Constellation Energy and EDF Group. As owner and operator of the 58 nuclear energy facilities in France, incorporating experience gained into its ventures is integral to EDF’s success. The central brain for their lessons-learned implementation process resides at EDF headquarters in Paris. A committee composed of dedicated senior management personnel drives the process and maintains a global connection to all EPR™ projects. Project and construction management collect, review, distribute and monitor implementation of lessons-learned for all EPR™ projects. The process is formally documented in a procedures database. This ever-evolving process empowers all parts of the EDF and UniStar organizations to identify and incorporate lessons-learned into the design, procurement, construction, and operating plans.
Second, Calvert Cliffs 3(the first U.S. EPR™ unit) planned for Lusby, Maryland, will be able to incorporate design and construction lessons-learned from the EPRs currently under construction in Finland, France, and China. This is a significant, strategic benefit for the future U.S. EPR™ fleet. Already, valuable insights are being incorporated from first-hand construction experience, which will reduce construction risks, validate durations of activities, identify valuable design changes, and incorporate more efficient construction practices. All of this results in an optimized generic schedule, cost savings, greater certainty of project schedule and cost, and a reduction in construction risk.
For example, changes in the design from Flamanville 3 (the reference plant for Calvert Cliffs 3) in the configuration of the containment liner have been successfully incorporated into the Taishan design, reducing the time required for installation of the containment liner from 47 weeks at Flamanville to 10 weeks at Taishan. The U.S. EPR will not only take advantage of these design changes but also the additional lessons-learned from Taishan.
Third, we’re also implementing lessons-learned from our own experience in the U.S. during the 1970s and 80s. This information has been captured in industry documents, such as the Nuclear Energy Institute’s NEI 09-02, and Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) reports. UniStar has also sent teams to benchmark current U.S. projects, and these people have returned with valuable insights. Formal documentation and incorporation of these lessons-learned into procurement specifications, contracts, and procedures, have been and will continue to be a key cornerstone of UniStar’s business model.
Fourth, UniStar has embedded personnel in the EDF Construction Organization for Flamanville 3 and the EDF Operating Experience organization in France. Likewise, EDF personnel are embedded in various UniStar departments in the United States. This allows firsthand experience, personnel development, succession planning, and cross cultural integration between Constellation Energy, UniStar, and EDF. The ultimate result is a real-time model of incorporation of lessons-learned in daily activities between projects.
Finally, in addition to EDF’s “central brain” in France, they have also created a global lessons-learned group, whereby senior executives representing the owners of EPRs worldwide are proactively sharing their experience as a first step in a grand vision of a global EPR owners’ forum.
UniStar’s living, lessons-learned program for the U.S. EPR™ project will be a vital, positive factor in the successful development, engineering, procurement, financing, construction, and future operation of Calvert Cliffs Unit 3, as well as all future U.S. EPR™ projects.