Nuclear Power Plant at dusk

Nuclear Plant Services

Discover our nuclear power consultancy and compliance services

Discover our nuclear power consultancy and compliance services

The world is increasingly focused on climate change, decreasing emissions, and decarbonising the power supply. However, with economies and populations growing exponentially, demand for electricity is increasing – be it for manufacturing, domestic use, or transport. Governments across the world are meeting challenge of producing reliable, affordable energy in many ways – by increasing the amount of renewable energy sources such as solar or wind and by turning to nuclear power. Nuclear power plants can either be the major provider within a national network or as part of a mixed nuclear/renewable energy strategy. They contribute to the fight against climate change as they produce no greenhouse gases when in operation.

Over the years, the nuclear power sector has always made safety and quality its upmost priorities. Both nuclear power plant operators and regulators have put in place a range of design and construction regulations, nuclear safety conventions and ISO certifications to ensure that nuclear power is a safe and one of the most reliable ways to generate energy.

The nuclear power sector is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the world and navigating the myriad of codes and procedures can appear daunting.

  • For owners and operators, the challenge to adapt the chosen nuclear power plant design to fulfil local regulation while staying economically viable throughout its lifecycle. Getting approval for any new build is subject to detailed scrutiny, particularly when entering a new market, and can be costly if licencing and specification documents are incomplete. The technology specified must conform to the latest safety standards, so monitoring the latest developments in the industry and applicable regulations is a must.
  • For Engineering, Procurement and Construction contractors (EPC) and the supply chain, the emphasis is on quality and safety. The requirements and specifications of both the owner and regulatory authorities must always be top priority. Interpreting the planning blueprints and scheduling material supply chains correctly means tight deadlines can be met. And sourcing the proven, high-end technology specified by operators ensures quality and safety standards are second to none.

Recognised as a leading player in the nuclear power sector, TÜV SÜD boasts an impressive portfolio of successful inspections, in-depth analyses, as well as bespoke advisory and training projects around the world. TÜV SÜD’s nuclear plant experts can help with all stages of the nuclear power plant lifecycle, from construction through safe operation to secure decommissioning. Furthermore, we support the nuclear supply chain on improvements to quality and safety, as well as offering training on various topics along the nuclear power plant lifecycle.


Approval and licensing: Considerations when planning and constructing a nuclear power plant

Construction of a new nuclear power plant is a complex process involving several stakeholders and decision makers. From finding a suitable site, securing financing, acquiring planning and licenses to ensuring construction runs smoothly and on time, energy generators and EPC contractors face a gauntlet of regulatory, financial and safety hurdles before generating the first kW of electricity. And if the plant is being built in a new market, unfamiliar approval processes, building regulations and new suppliers can make the process even more complicated.

The Internal and external influences to be considered by nuclear power plant operators and EPCs include but are not limited to:

Government nuclear policy

  • is there a long-term commitment to nuclear power within the host country?
  • is there a nuclear power programme in place, thereby fostering knowledge and experience within the host country?

National and local infrastructure

  • are the host country’s technical and industrial resources capable of supporting a nuclear power plant construction project
  • does the host country have the necessary infrastructure in place to ensure success of the project, both in terms of physical infrastructure (road network, human resources, power connectivity, etc) and regulatory infrastructure (planning authority, nuclear regulator etc)?

Financing and future income

  • will the project use proven technology, thereby reducing risk, and easing access to financing?
  • is there enough financing in place to cover the initial building costs?
  • what is the electricity market model in the host country (e.g., free market, regulated model, fixed tariffs)?

Organisational and regulatory structure

  • what is the host country’s approach to ownership of nuclear power plants (e.g., owner/operator with vendor, build-own-operate model, public-private partnership)?
  • how much involvement will government have during construction of a nuclear plant?
  • how far are nuclear and non-nuclear regulations understood in the host country (e.g., building regulations, safety standards, environmental protection)?

Nuclear power plants are major infrastructure projects with investment running into the billions. Governments and nuclear regulators place safety, security, and quality as their top priorities. TÜV SÜD’s expert consultants are well placed to guide clients through regulatory requirements. They will ensure applicants are prepared with the in-depth documentation and targeted supporting information, which could be the key to successfully adhering to nuclear power plant licensing requirements and being approved quickly.

Nuclear safety: Everyone’s top priority

Safety within the nuclear industry involves protecting people and the environment against radiation risks and making the facilities and activities that give rise to those risks as safe as possible.

Following the IAES Safety Fundamentals and Guidelines may help to achieve this overarching safety goal. They comprise ways to design, construct and operate nuclear power plants in a safe and economically meaningful way. For example, a deterministic approach can be chosen using a set of initiating events to identify the load limits the systems of a nuclear power plant must adhere to.

Adequate design solutions as well as specific procedures to deal with initiating events ensure that fundamental safety functions such as controlling reactivity, removing heat from the reactor and fuel store as well as confining radioactive material and avoiding accidental releases maintain the safety of the plant.

A further concept introduced in IAEA Guidelines to maximise nuclear safety is the Defence in Depth concept. This approach combines consecutive, independent levels of protection so if one level were to fail, the subsequent level is activated.

Defence in Depth

Level 1

Normal operation

Level 2

Abnormal operation

Level 3

Control of accidents within the design basis

Level 4

Control of severe conditions

Level 5

Mitigation of radiological consequences

By implementing Defence in Depth from the very beginning, operators can incorporate sufficient safety margins, diversity and redundancy into their design and engineering. Moreover, the graded approach to safety underling the Defence in Dept concept allows the usage of components of different quality grades to realise the system and safety functions on each defence level. Adapting the required quality to the appropriate level of defence is a key to reconciling safety and costs.

Defence in Depth can be achieved by:

  • specifying design, technology and materials of the highest quality and reliability during the build and subsequent maintenance,
  • controlling, limiting, and protecting systems and surveillance features,
  • combining inherent and engineered safety features appropriately.

TÜV SÜD’s expertise in the nuclear power plant sector means our clients have access to an experienced consultants who can undertake hazard analysis and advise on defence protocols to avoid incidents and accidents. What’s more, we understand the challenge of maintaining a reasonable balance between safety, quality, and related costs.

Nuclear supply chain: Ensuring safety and quality

Whether it be in the supply of services or products, EPC contractors are key to ensuring a nuclear power plant is built to the highest quality standards. Furthermore, with plant safety a top priority, there must be no weaknesses or potential disruptions in any part of the nuclear supply chain.

It is usually a requirement of the nuclear licencing process that suppliers and manufacturers must also comply with the many safety and security regulations in place in the sector. That could be particularly challenging when entering a new market, where local codes and standards may differ or be more exacting. Any breaches could result in monetary or regulatory penalties, the loss of the contract and reputational risk.

Supply chain audits confirm EPCs have the necessary checks and systems in place to safeguard compliance. In addition, they guarantee the quality of goods and services and ensure safety is maintained across the nuclear supply chain. And for new EPC contractors coming onto the market, it is essential that they prove they can meet the stringent quality thresholds needed.

The experienced auditors at TÜV SÜD can audit suppliers and offer guidance to create a secure, reliable supply chain.

TÜV SÜD can also offer advice and support to new and established manufacturers and EPCs looking to expand their activities.

Maintaining quality and reliability: equipment qualification

During construction, parts for a nuclear power plant can come from a myriad of local and international EPCs and manufactures. Ensuring the quality and compliance of plant and equipment is vital to meeting the regulations laid down by the host country’s authorities.

Equipment Qualification is a way for EPCs, manufacturers and nuclear power plant operators to prove the quality and safety compliance of components. This usually takes the form of documented evidence relating to the design, function, and performance of equipment to pre-determined norms.

Working closely with operators, EPCs and manufacturers, TÜV SÜD provides support with equipment qualification throughout the lifecycle of the nuclear power plant. Using our own testing facilities and laboratories, we perform physical equipment testing including EMC (electromagnetic compatibility) and seismic/environmental tests. From developing technical and system specifications, through compliance checks and technical assessments to documentation and test reports, we are a trusted partner who will ensure the quality and reliability of operational and safety equipment.

ISO 19443 certification: Showing a commitment to nuclear safety and security

Having ISO 19443 certification shows nuclear power plant operators and their supply chain have a commitment to safety, security, and quality. The minimisation of risks and threats must always be a priority and every organisation in the nuclear sector has a part to play in maintaining the overarching nuclear safety culture. ISO 19443 certification proves that commitment and can be decisive in tendering decisions.

Building on ISO 9001 quality management systems, ISO 19443 focuses on best practice within the nuclear power sector. It instils a culture of safety within organisations across the entire nuclear supply chain, from equipment manufacturers to EPC contractors. The certification has a graded approach to quality requirements which balances quality with cost-effectiveness, based on the defence in depth requirements. Overall, ISO 19443 certification ensures a continuing focus on improvement, compliance, and risk-based thinking while ensuring nuclear projects continue to be commercially attractive.
Besides the ISO 19443 certification under an internationally recognized accreditation, TÜV SÜD provides clients with necessary tools to achieve the ISO 19443 certification through preparatory services such as ISO 19443 training and pre-audit. During the in-depth ISO 19443 training, our experts will explain compliance obligations, demonstrate how to implement safety-first procedures, improve strategic planning capabilities, and help suppliers gain a targeted understanding of customer requirements. Armed with an extensive portfolio of successful projects within the nuclear power industry and comprehensive ISO 19443 guidance material, TÜV SÜD is a trusted partner for ISO 19443 certification.

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