Europe, Nuclear, O&M, Reactors

Swiss nuclear plant set for flexible operation after upgrade

A nuclear power plant in Switzerland is set to operate flexibly after a software upgrade to its reactor control system.

The 1010 MW Goesgen pressurized water reactor plant, located in the canton of Solothurn, came online in 1979 and is majority-owned by Alpiq.

After successful installation of the upgrade, the plant’s output can vary between 50 and 100 per cent of its installed capacity in response to the needs of the grid operator, technology developer Areva NP said. 

Flexible operation, with power ramps of up to 30 MW per minute, is performed autonomously without operator interaction, the company added.

Areva NP said its control software upgrade, called Advanced Load Following Control (ALFC), can enable any pressurized water reactor or boiling water reactor to operate more flexibly. 

Enhanced fatigue effects caused by load-following operation can affect a nuclear plant’s cumulated usage factor (CUF), the company noted, but said its optimization of operation modes minimizes CUF. 

Carsten Dueweke, head of instrumentation & control projects at AREVA NP, said: “The intermittent electricity generation of renewable energy sources like wind and solar increases the need for balancing power.

“Our ALFC system enhances the capabilities of nuclear power plants to deliver such services and to perform a stabilizing role in the power grid.”  

The company said it has installed the technology at four German nuclear power plants (Philippsburg 2, Isar 2, Brokdorf and Grohnde), with the first project dating back to 2008.

The software is currently being adapted to work with more reactor designs with the aim of winning further international projects, Areva NP said.