Top expertise in nuclear

Published: March 27, 2013

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In Nuclear’s complex, multi-tiered, technologically sophisticated industry, where safety is an overriding priority, the value of well-connected, high-level expertise cannot be underrated. Top expert, Luc Vanhoenacker, discusses 3 key areas where unusual expertise in Nuclear adds value for customers.

TRACKING REGULATIONS & THEIR IMPACT

In an industry governed by strict regulations aimed at continuous improvement, knowledge of today’s regulations, as well of those to come and their potential consequences on a client’s business is critical. Read more

TECHNOLOGICAL INSIGHT

For new nuclear builds, the ability to assess the weaknesses and merits of one reactor design over another is the first step to ensuring a client’s long-term objectives are met. When selecting a product that you may operate for up to 60 years – you want to start right. Read more

OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE

Nuclear systems are both complicated and technologically sophisticated. Customers must have the possibility to call on specialist and experienced based expertise in stressful situations. Read more


Doel NPP, Belgium - photo: Manderlier Emmanuel

TRACKING REGULATIONS & THEIR IMPACT

In an industry governed by regulations aimed at continuous improvement, knowledge of today’s regulations, as well of those to come and their potential consequences on a client’s business is critical.

FOREWARNED IS FOREARMED
New regulations and compulsory safety measures are constantly being introduced in nuclear. Be the impact immediate, as with the Stress Tests demanded on all EU nuclear installations after the tsunami induced Fukushima accident in 2011, or in 5 or 10 years time, it is a customer’s right to expect that current regulations and any future evolutions are followed, anticipated and their consequences understood and communicated by their advising experts. For this reason, Tractebel Engineering has always ensured that it is well represented in all Operational Experience Feedback organisations and makes it its business to interface at all levels, in order to stay on top of regulatory and safety developments, on behalf of its clients.

As experts we need to be open to all information available in order to share it with our clients. Participating in organisations that provide this is essential.Luc Vanhoenacker


Nuclear Power Plant Tihange - detail of the control room simulator - photo: Anbergen Olivier

TECHNOLOGICAL INSIGHT

For new nuclear builds, the ability to assess the weaknesses and merits of one reactor design over another is the first step to ensuring a client’s long-term objectives are met. When selecting a product that you may operate for up to 60 years – you want to start right.

INDEPENDANT R&D

Our focus, as a nuclear engineering company, is on the development of methodologies in order to provide our customers with high value solutions that improve or enhance their overall performance. The focus of our R&D is therefore not the design of new reactors concepts. Rather, as experts, we see it as our duty to ensure that we are able to advise our clients on the best technology with respect to their final objectives. We need to know all the pros and cons of the designs on offer (EPR, ATMEA, AP1000 and other new designs developing in countries like Korea).Taking into account the rules and evolution of regulations, staying in advance of development allows us to assess the best options open to our customers in terms of their long-term investment risk. We’re also better able to challenge the “sales” claims of the technology experts on behalf of our clients.

R&D is in essence, the business, task and duty of experts. Luc Vanhoenacker


Signature of EPZ framework contract (from l. to r.): C. Pierlot - General Manager Nuclear Tractebel Engineering, A. Louter - CEO EPZ, D. Bayart Product Director - Thermal Power Generation & Desalination Tractebel Engineering

OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE

Nuclear systems are both complicated and technologically sophisticated. Customers must have the possibility to call on specialist and experience based expertise in stressful situations.

PUTTING EXPERTISE INTO PRACTICE
Nuclear plants typically involve dozens of systems and thousands of individual components. You don’t need to be an expert to know that’s a recipe for occasional breakdown. But you do need expertise to ensure that the challenges are understood and dealt with appropriately. This is not the theoretical expertise you will find in a University or Research Centre; it is expertise that draws on multiple areas of knowledge and operational experience to build practical solutions to the actual issues faced in all stages of the nuclear life-cycle, planned – we have carried out 7 Steam Generator Replacements in the last 20 years, or unpredicted – such as the recent investigation and building of a safety case for Doel Unit 3 and Tihange Unit 2 in Belgium after ‘laminar’ flaws were found in the reactor pressure vessels 30 years after their manufacture. Another example was carrying out the emergency Stress Tests demanded by Armenia after the Fukushima disaster in 2011. See Stress Tests Armenia

EXPERT PARTNERS
Trust, between our experts and our clients, is vital – the better we know their installations and their goals, the more effectively we can solve their challenges. Partnerships also fit with the philosophy and natural orientation of the company and our experts to serve, protect and always give the maximum to our customers, making their objectives our own. Our long standing relationship with Electrabel (GDF SUEZ) is proof of this, as are the growing number of framework agreements we have with other Belgian and international nuclear players including:

  • Belgoprocess – Nuclear Waste Management and Storage
  • Institute for Radioelements (IRE)
  • Vattenfall Sweden
  • Elektriciteits-Produktiemaatschappij Zuid-Nederland (EPZ)more info about this contract

Through this framework agreement we are securing the availability of project management capabilities and Owner’s Engineers experience of an internationally renowned engineering consultancy.Mr. Ad Louter, CEO EPZ


Medzamor NPP - photo: Stratocles
Medzamor NPP – photo: Stratocles

 

STRESS TESTS FOR ARMENIA – MEDZAMOR NPP

A consortium led by Tractebel Engineering is providing technical assistance to the Armenian NPP at Medzamor in carrying out Stress Tests in accordance with the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG).

Following the Fukushima accident in 2011, the European Council decided that “the safety of all EU nuclear plants should be reviewed on the basis of a comprehensive and transparent risk assessment” (Stress Tests). This was compulsory in Europe and open to the voluntary participation of neighbouring countries, with the promise of technical support to any country wishing to participate, but the necessary expertise to carry out Stress Tests to the required specifications. The Armenian Nuclear Safety Authority was one of those to respond; requesting that Stress Tests be done on the 2 VVER units (VVER = the Russian PWR design) at the country’s Armenian Nuclear Power Plant (ANPP) in Medzamor.

As the complexity of the analysis required is beyond the technical capabilities of ANPP alone, the European Commission launched a tender for technical assistance to the project. Thanks to Tractebel Engineering’s experience in carrying out the Stress Tests for all 7 NPP units as required in Belgium, as well as the effort and creative attitude of everyone involved in the bid, the contract was awarded in August 2012 to a strong multi-national consortium:

  • Tractebel Engineering – consortium leaders
  • UJV – A Czech company specialised in WWER technology
  • ARMATOM – A local Armenian company with good knowledge of the ANPP units
  • CVS – A Russian company specialised in seismic engineering and seismic re-evaluation of NPPs is a subcontractor to the consortium

More info about this contract


View Armenia – Medzamor NPP in a larger map

TOP EXPERTISE

GDF SUEZ has appointed Luc Vanhoenacker a Top Expert. Within GDF SUEZ, Top Experts are unanimously recognised as international references in their area of expertise and constitute a strategic asset for the Group. Tractebel Engineering counts 4 Top Experts in its ranks: Jacques Pirson, Nuclear Power expert,  Alain Van Cotthem, Nuclear Waste Storage expert, Jean-Pierre Goffin, Thermal PP expert and Luc Vanhoenacker, Nuclear Safety expert, such expertise is considered a strategic asset to our clients too.

More information

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Luc Vanhoenacker, Nuclear Deputy General Manager, Nuclear Safety Expert

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