nuclear power

Nuclear Power Plant Operations

Delivering real business benefits across key segments

Delivering real business benefits across key segments

Day-to-day nuclear power plant operations cause wear and tear on parts and equipment. And with increasing renewable sources in the energy mix, plants are often called on to balance the energy mix by a load following operation, meaning components are subject to more intense use. Operators always need to have safety in mind. Maintenance work and in-service inspections, combined with periodic safety reviews, need to cover all areas and processes within the facility. What’s more a planned schedule of preventative maintenance, repair and refurbishment not only ensures continued safe operation but helps extend the lifetime of a plant.

Conducting safety reviews and inspections to ensure continued reliability

By performing repeated inspections and maintenance work, coupled with periodic safety reviews, nuclear power plant operators can ensure the reliability, effectiveness and safety of all plant systems and equipment.

As part of their on-going nuclear power plant support services, the experts at TÜV SÜD assess whether periodic safety reviews comply with all applicable codes and standards, thereby ensuring the nuclear power plant continues to fulfil the latest safety requirements. They use a combination of probabilistic safety analyses (PSA) and deterministic safety analysis (DSA) to calculate safety risks and probabilities of a wide range of faults and hazards within a nuclear power facility.

A PSA concentrates on measuring risk and assessing options for reducing such risk within a nuclear power plant. It is critical in understanding the strengths, weaknesses, and interdependencies within the facility. On the other hand, a DSA concentrates on assessing the effectiveness of safety functions to control any initiating events and prevent their escalation.

In addition, TÜV SÜD’s inspection services utilise modern assessment and testing methods which not only support the plant’s ageing management but also identify faults before they become critical. The ageing of components and systems can be assessed on-site, in some cases remotely (using, for example, smart glasses) or in own laboratories to provide a comprehensive overview of all plant equipment. From metallographic and rupture testing to ultrasonic and radiographic examinations, TÜV SÜD offers independent assessments and reporting on the technical condition of the facility.

By combining these approaches with their own experience and expertise, TÜV SÜD’s advisors gain an overarching insight into the performance, reliability and safety of the nuclear power plant.

Managing equipment ageing within the nuclear industry

The first nuclear power plants were planned with an initial lifespan of between 25 and 40 years. Due to advances in engineering and technology, as well as a desire to increase the return on the initial capital investment, some operators are now looking at extending the life of their plant. How? By implementing an ageing management plan to ensure that systems, structures, and components that are vital to the continued safe running of a nuclear power plant are monitored and replaced systematically. This lifetime extension could mean an extra 20 to 30 years of operation.

Power plant operators need to be certain of the reliability and status of components, sub-assemblies, and systems currently being used. TÜV SÜD offers a range of services to monitor nuclear equipment ageing to promote a structured, preventative maintenance regime. In addition, as risk-based approaches are playing an increasingly significant role in nuclear equipment ageing programs, we leverage our expertise and experience to incorporate such concepts. Safety checks and safety assessments are also used to confirm that equipment is ageing at the predicted rate, thereby ensuring that continuing safe operation of the facility is given.

Using both non-destructive testing (NDT) and Finite Element Method (FEM) calculations, our experts assess the condition and expected lifespan of current components. We support operators in making informed decisions around extending the lifetime of the plant through retrofitting or refurbishment.


How to refurbish and extend the lifespan of a nuclear power plant

Refurbishment of a nuclear power plant can also play a part in ageing management. As part of nuclear facility modification plans, operators should replace systems and components that, whilst cutting edge at the time of construction, have now been surpassed by innovation. Replacing obsolete technology improves operational efficiency and reduce the plant’s own energy consumption. The investment easily pays for itself through increased availability, reliability, and capacity.

By carrying out condition assessments, TÜV SÜD’s experts identify and rank the optimisation of systems and components. Ranking not only takes technical optimisation into account but also the economic effectiveness of the proposed improvements.

Our service goes beyond the actual nuclear refurbishment process itself and sets out future operation, monitoring, and maintenance schedules to ensure the continued effectiveness of the measures undertaken. Finally, we can confirm the effectiveness of the nuclear facility modifications to satisfy both stakeholders, investors, and regulatory authorities.


Fire protection

A fire outbreak in any building, commercial or residential, poses a huge threat to life and property. And a fire in a nuclear power plant poses additional threats. Ensuring a high level of fire protection within a facility is a must for any operator and an essential part of safety within the nuclear sector.

Designing and installing independent, bespoke fire detection and alarm systems from the outset will minimise the direct consequences of any fire. In addition, using redundancy and separation helps prevent a fire escalating and limits any potential damage. By triggering such Defence in Depth (DID) responses, operators can ensure a fire neither prevents the shutdown of the plant nor leads to a release of radioactive particles into the environment.

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