AFCEN’s international activities are focused on achieving the following key objectives:
- Continue developing working platforms for the nuclear industry in each area where its codes are used, mainly the UK and China.
- Pursue AFCEN’s development around the world: Asia (China and India), the European Union (United Kingdom, Poland, Czech Republic, etc.), South Africa and the Middle East by supporting projects in France’s nuclear industry.
- Build on the industrial practice of international users (United Kingdom and China in particular) and the technical instructions for certifying projects that have used AFCEN codes as a reference (General Design Assessment in the UK for example).
- Listen to the proposed changes to the codes voiced by participants in CEN WS 64, which contains leading players in Europe’s nuclear industry looking to improve their expertise in AFCEN’s codes.
- Continue the policy of comparing AFCEN codes with the other nuclear codes within MDEP (Multinational Design Evaluation Program) and CORDEL (Cooperation in Reactor Design, Evaluation and Licensing).
AFCEN pursues an extensive range of rewarding initiatives in France. AFCEN's editorial activities are described in Chapter 2, while training activities are detailed in Chapter 3.
Relationship with France’s nuclear Safety Authority
AFCEN’s senior management meets the Nuclear Safety Authority’s executives every two years. The last meeting was held on January 5, 2017. AFCEN’s Board of Directors met with ASN’s Chairman, the Directorate-General, the Nuclear Pressure Equipment Department (DEP) and its supporting body, the French Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN).
In addition, AFCEN holds monthly meetings with ASN’s Nuclear Pressure Components Division for the purpose of incorporating the requirements of the ESPN Regulation into its codes. This relationship of trust between both organizations is instrumental in the success of the three-year ESPN program, which is covered by the 2018 editions of the RCC-M and RSE-M codes.
AFCEN annual day
On June 25, 2018, AFCEN held a special day for its experts, contributors and members. During the event, various workshops were held to present the association’s work activities, organizational structure and core principles, as well as the strategic plan.
Attendees took great interest in the workshops covering AFCEN’s international activities and the presentation of the latest Subcommittee works.
PRESENTATION OF AFCEN’S STRATEGIC PLAN BY PHILIPPE BORDARIER
Participation in WNE exhibition
AFCEN attended the third consecutive WNE exhibition from June 26 to 28, 2018, at the Parc des Expositions venue in Villepinte, France.
The three-day exhibition proved to be a productive networking platform for AFCEN, which ran a series of breakout sessions on training and CEN Workshop 64. The event also included a mini-conference on codes and standards at the EDF pavilion, a visit from a Chinese delegation to the AFCEN stand and especially an interview with AFCEN’s President on the association’s strategic plan for the next five years, which was published in the WNE Tribune newspaper. Other highlights included a meeting between AFCEN’s administrators and Gerassimos Thomas, Deputy Director-General for Energy at the European Commission.
Meeting between AFCEN’s administrators and Gerassimos Thomas, Deputy Director-General for Energy at the European Commission
In keeping with its international development strategy, AFCEN launched an exercise in “Europeanizing” codes in 2009 as part of a CEN workshop (WS 64).
The workshop used the case of RCC-MRx to prompt European partners to propose code modifications that would serve their projects. The workshop issued a stream of modification proposals, 20 of whichwere considered to have sufficient justification for inclusion into the code and constituted the workshop agreement. They were added to the 2012 edition of the code.
Based on what was considered a positive feedback by all partners, a continuation of the CEN/WS 64 workshop was launched in 2014 to investigate the potential needs for creating a code for civil engineering works (see Section 3.2.3) and mechanical works for Gen II to Gen IV reactors. Workshop members submitted several proposed changes to the RCC-M, RCC-MRx and RCC-CW codes to AFCEN, which has responded positively about the prospect of incorporating the majority of the proposals into the codes.
Phase 3 of the workshop is now ready. The kick-off meeting is due to be held in January 2019. The aim of this phase is to invite proposals for code changes from the operators, the authorities’ technical support teams and industry professionals who could ultimately be involved in evaluating or taking part in nuclear projects using AFCEN codes. Phase 3 has four key objectives:
In addition to the three codes already involved, Phase 3 also invites electrical experts to take part in the process based on the RCC-E code.
This activity is in line with the general goal of harmonizing industry practices promoted by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy, which has lent its support accordingly. Furthermore, AFCEN highlighted the value of this approach when developing the implementation programs during the 2018-2025 period of the European Union’s Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan). A collaborative process for defining and creating the codes would appear to be a key enabling condition for identifying the potential gains in competitive advantage for European industry and driving research, innovation and demonstration efforts across the EU.
AFCEN’s ties with China can be traced back to 1986 with the construction of the two Daya Bay 900 MW units in the Guangdong province of southern China. At that time, the power plant was based on the Gravelines 5/6 plant design.
AFCEN codes became increasingly widespread in China and gathered pace in 2007 when the Chinese Safety Authority (NNSA) imposed their use (via “Decision no. 28”) for Generation II+ nuclear projects. This requirement prompted the CGN Group to translate the available editions of the codes following authorization from AFCEN between 2008 and 2012, and this initiative was strongly supported by various governmental organizations (NEA, NNSA, CMIF etc.).
In 2008 and 2013, Chinese users adopted the codes: technical seminars were organized between AFCEN and the codes main users, with discussions to clarify and interpret several aspects of the codes (several hundreds of interpretation requests).
To provide a coordinated response to such a high demand, several agreements and MOUs (memoranda of understanding) were signed in 2014, especially with CGN and CNNC, the two largest nuclear operators, as well as with CNEA, the largest association in China’s nuclear industry (featuring operators, engineering firms, manufacturers, and so on). In 2014, these partnerships led to the creation of Chinese Users Groups and the first technical seminar between AFCEN and CNEA, which focused on regulations, codes and standards, qualification of equipment, I&C, etc.
Chinese experts strengthened their relationship with their French counterparts in 2015 by holding several technical sessions (Chinese Specialized Users Groups or CSUGs) to discuss the contents and interpretation of the codes, and interpretation of the codes. There are currently eight CSUGs covering all of AFCEN's technical fields. By December 2018, 38 CSUG meetings had been held in China, during which experts presented and discussed 450 technical topics.
In 2017, AFCEN and NEA signed a long-term memorandum of understanding relating to nuclear standards and codes, which took AFCEN’s codes one step closer to mainstream use in China. The agreement gives Chinese standardization bodies official permission to use AFCEN codes as a reference for drafting the country’s future nuclear standards (NB standards), while allowing for their translation into Chinese. The agreement also encourages regular technical discussions between China and France with a view to working together in enhancing the nuclear codes and standards by incorporating the highly dynamic feedback from the nuclear industries in both countries.
Activities in 2018
Taishan 1 enters active service
The world’s nuclear industry had its watershed moment in 2018 when the very first EPR unit was commissioned at the Taishan site.
Site of the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant in China
This success story can be credited to the close working ties between the French and Chinese nuclear industries, especially the TNPJVC joint venture (Taishan Nuclear Power Joint Venture Co.). AFCEN codes (RCC-M, RSE-M, RCC-E, ETC-F and RCC-C) played a role in this achievement by providing a coherent set of key technical standards for ensuring nuclear safety and spanning each phase of the project, from licensing, design and manufacturing through to installation, testing and operation. Training sessions were also organized with AFCEN’s support to improve uptake of AFCEN code requirements among local manufacturers.
TNPJVC Team China
Meetings in China to implement the NEA-AFCEN agreement:
- Further to the MOU that AFCEN signed with NEA in 2017, both parties formally launched the governance structure for Franco-Chinese cooperation on nuclear codes and standards on September 7, 2018, in Beijing. A Steering Committee and Expert Assembly featuring 30 Chinese experts and 30 AFCEN experts were set up to implement the agreement signed on November 30, 2017, which heralds a milestone in AFCEN’s development in China.
- In addition to the official event for creating the Steering Committee and Expert Assembly, the first work session for Chinese and French experts on nuclear codes (Expert Assembly meeting) was held on September 6. This half-day session proved to be a hotbed of discussion and allowed participants to identify potential technical subjects of benefit to both parties.
Experts Assembly, Beijing China
Visit from a delegation to Paris during AFCEN Day
To coincide with AFCEN Day late June 2018 in Paris, AFCEN received a large Chinese delegation from NEA (National Energy Administration), CGN, CNNC and other industrial groups. In addition to taking part in the AFCEN seminar, delegation members also attended an event to celebrate the MAI’s 10th birthday (Materials Ageing Institute) at the EDF Lab Les Renardières and participated in a session illustrating how AFCEN codes continually incorporate the results and findings of EDF’s R&D teams.
CNNC and MAI in Moret-sur-Loing, France
Users Groups meetings in China, and AFCEN training courses
- In April, May, September and subsequently in November 2018, eight further meetings were held between AFCEN’s experts and members of the Chinese Specialized User Groups (CSUGs) in Wuhan, Chengdu, Beijing and Suzhou respectively. AFCEN’s experts continued discussing the content and interpretation of all the codes, as well as their use in China. The different meetings were attended by several dozens of Chinese experts from engineering firms (particularly CGN and CNNC), industry and China’s Safety Authority.
- The RCC-M CSUG session in Suzhou in November 2018 was also attended by John Wintle, Chairman of the RCC-M UK Users Group. This international meeting featured experts from China, Great Britain and France, and ended with feedback on their use of the RCC-M code in their respective contexts.
- After AFCEN had formally certified the Chinese-language RCC-M training in 2016, which was subject to an agreement between SNPI and AFCEN, two new RCC-M training sessions were held in Suzhou in 2018. AFCEN training completion certificates were issued to the trainees who passed the final exam.
Outlook for AFCEN in China in 2019
In 2019, AFCEN will pursue its policy of developing cooperation on codes and standards, and will continue honoring its commitments towards its Chinese partners. The main milestones and prospects are as follows:
- In the wake of the MOU with NEA, set up a committee to oversee all cooperation actions and define the governance rules and terms of operation for the expert working group.
- Participation of AFCEN’s Chinese members in the March 2019 Congress in Paris, including the Subcommittee meetings and technical breakout sessions.
- Organize new meetings of the Chinese Specialized Users Groups to promote dialog on the use of AFCEN’s codes in China, while encouraging technical discussions with particular emphasis on clarifying and interpreting specific aspects of the codes.
- Extend the agreement with SNPI concerning AFCEN-certified Chinese-language training courses and either develop a new course on a new AFCEN code or adapt the existing courses on a given code according to a new format.
- Adapt AFCEN’s IT tools and systems to suit the local context in China.
Outlook for AFCEN in China in 2018
In 2018, AFCEN will pursue its policy of developing cooperation on codes and standards, and will continue honouring its commitments towards its Chinese partners. The main milestones and prospects are as follows:
- In the wake of the MOU with NEA, set up a committee to oversee all cooperation actions, define the governance rules and terms of operation for the expert working group, and organize a first steering committee meeting.
- Participation of AFCEN’s Chinese members in the AFCEN Day in Paris in 2018, including the Subcommittee meetings and technical breakout sessions.
- Organize new meetings of the Chinese Specialized Users Groups to promote dialog on the use of AFCEN’s codes in China, while encouraging technical discussions with particular emphasis on clarifying and interpreting specific aspects of the codes.
- Extend the agreement with SNPI concerning AFCEN-certified Chinese-language training courses and develop a course for a new code in addition to RCC-M.
- As part of the CUGs, launch an International Working Group with Chinese and French experts collaborating on a technical topic of joint interest before future-proofing the organization to allow for Chinese best practices to be introduced into AFCEN's codes.
- Adapt AFCEN's IT tools and systems to suit the local context in China.
AFCEN codes are being used in the United Kingdom as a reference for the design, construction and in-service inspection of the following EPR reactor projects:
- Hinkley Point C (HPC): two units (for the detailed design and construction phases),
- Sizewell C (SZC): two units (for the project design phase - design identical to HPC).
The EPR design passed the GDA in the United Kingdom in 2013, and the AFCEN codes were approved by the British Safety Authority (ONR – Office for Nuclear Regulation). The final investment decision (FID) for the HPC project was taken in September 2016, paving the way for engineering and construction of the power plant. There are plans to build two reactors at the SZC site based on the same design as the two HPC units.
The reactors’ future operator (NNB – Nuclear New Build) is liaising with the regulator. Following completion of the GDA (Generic Design Assessment), ONR approved the use of AFCEN codes for mechanical components (RCC-M 2007 edition + 2008-2010 addenda), electrical equipment (RCC-E 2012 edition), civil engineering works (ETC-C 2010 edition) and fire protection (ETC-F revision G of 2007).
An addendum has been created for the ETC-F code to incorporate British fire protection regulations, which AFCEN has subsequently added to the code in the form of a UK-specific appendix. NNB has decided to use the RSE-M code for monitoring in-service mechanical components, while adapting certain rules to meet the context and operational requirements specific to the United Kingdom. The group of independent experts, which NNB commissioned to address ONR’s concerns about the code, endorsed the methods for analyzing the impacts of defects detected during operation (Appendix 5.4, also used during the design phase) against current practices in the United Kingdom (R6 Rules).
The dissemination of AFCEN’s code culture within British industry is essential for simplifying understanding and use of the codes in projects and potentially aligning them with local regulations and industry practices. With this aim in mind, the AFCEN code Users Groups (UK Users Groups), which are supervised by an NNB-led Steering Committee, comprise the companies concerned and representatives from NNB and AFCEN. These Users Groups have the following missions:
- facilitate uptake of AFCEN codes among industry and partners by minimizing discrepancies caused by poor interpretation of the codes early into the project,
- collect users’ requests and proposals (interpreting and modifying codes, drafting guides or local appendices), building on industrial practices and making AFCEN codes even more robust,
- determine training needs and facilitate appropriate solutions,
- establish effective communication channels with AFCEN’s Subcommittees.
The RCC-M Users Group has been coordinated by TWI (The Welding Institute) since 2013. From 2013 to 2016, this group comprised approximately 15 members representing manufacturers, engineering firms, consultants, inspection and training organizations, institutes, and so on. They addressed the following key technical issues with a helping hand from AFCEN’s experts: materials sourcing and manufacture, quality requirements, and requirements for nuclear pressure components. The decision to launch the process for sourcing mechanical components for the HPC project in 2018 provided the ideal opportunity to restart the Users Group in a different format and identify new work topics. Group members will reconvene early 2019, with the participation of AFCEN’s experts.
The Users Group on civil engineering codes was formed in November 2016 and held two meetings in 2017 (June and December) and one meeting in 2018 (October). Chaired by WOOD, the group includes the main companies involved in the Hinkley Point C project. A meeting held on October 2, 2018, allowed industry’s main players to address a wide range of technical subjects, including concrete reinforcement and shrinkage, and coordinate contributions from specific members concerning offshore structures with a view to their ultimate incorporation into RCC-CW. The group proved to be an attractive and profitable venture for taking advantage of the lessons learned from the HPC project and fostering a close-knit community of experts and manufacturers in the UK. The Users Group will pursue its activities in 2019. The green light was given in 2018 to create an RCC-E Users Group, which is expected to be launched in 2019. The Steering Committee for the UK Users Groups held a meeting on April 26, 2018.
The project to build a PWR reactor featuring Chinese technology (UK Hualong or HPR-1000) is undergoing the GDA (Generic Design Assessment) process in the UK in anticipation of installing two units at the Bradwell B site. The GDA is being coordinated by an EDF-CGN joint venture (GNS). The blueprint for this project is mainly based on a reactor that is currently being built in China (Fangchenggang 3) and significantly inspired by AFCEN codes. The GDA for this reactor will take advantage of the lessons learned from the EPR project incorporated into the chosen AFCEN codes.
After participating in the international India Nuclear Energy show in Mumbai in 2016 and several events involving Indian suppliers in 2017, AFCEN has continued its policy of developing cooperative ties with India, especially in terms of training on the RCC-M code.
On March 10, 2018, EDF, AFCEN, Bureau Veritas and Larsen & Toubro signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to provide training services for the RCC codes in India. This concerted effort to provide training will be instrumental in developing the necessary skills among the wide range of local vendors willing to supply their components and equipment for the Jaitapur project. Larsen & Toubro (L&T) is one of the main companies in India with heavy forging facilities and experience in using AFCEN codes.
Two training sessions on the RCC-M code were held in 2018, each of which attracting close to 30 trainees (see Chapter 4).
These initiatives are aimed at reinforcing collaborative ties between France and India ahead of the JNPP project (Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project).
AFCEN has already forged ties with India’s nuclear industry, especially through the use of the RCC-MR code (predecessor of the RCC-MRx code) during the design of the PFBR (Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor), which is currently undergoing construction in Kalpakkam.
In 2019, AFCEN is determined to pursue its policy of building cooperation with India while supporting the proposal for six EPR units as part of the Jaitapur project.
Harmonization and cooperation initiatives
AFCEN is a major player in the nuclear codes sector around the world. Driven by its determination to continually incorporate industry best practice and local regulations, AFCEN is naturally involved in the harmonization programs either set up by international organizations or created on its own initiative.
For example, AFCEN contributes to the objectives of harmonizing mechanical codes launched by the multinational design evaluation program (MDEP, CSWG working group on “Codes and Standards”) set up by the Safety Authorities in the main countries using nuclear energy under the authority of the OECD/NEA.
Similarly, AFCEN is an observer in the "Codes & Standards" task force of the working group (formed by the World Nuclear Association WNA, which includes industry's main players) on cooperation in reactor design evaluation and licensing (CORDEL).
In the same spirit, AFCEN's members are active in various standardization bodies at the European (CEN / CENELEC) and international level (ISO / IEC).
In addition, AFCEN has launched a strategy to examine the needs for Gen II to IV reactors at the European level through Workshop 64 of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN).
SDO Convergence Board
AFCEN is an active contributor to the international group of standards developing organizations (SDO Convergence Board), which was founded in 2010 to facilitate the introduction of compatible rules in the various mechanical codes. The SDO Board holds four meetings a year in addition to the ASME Code Week and reports on its work once a year to MDEP/CSWG. The SDO Board also draws inspiration from the work performed by WNA/CORDEL/MCSTF.
AFCEN is a member of the Convergence Board, just like ASME, JSME, KEPIC, CSA and NIKIET.
AFCEN voices its development objectives and contributes to convergence opportunities on the topics examined by the group. In 2018, AFCEN presented its strategy for addressing the following topics: carbon segregation (topic raised by MDEP/CSWG), residual welding stress and hydraulic tests.
AFCEN is an observer in the MCSTF Task Force (Mechanical Codes & Standards) of the CORDEL working group (Cooperation in Reactor Design Evaluation and Licensing). The World Nuclear Association (WNA) created CORDEL in 2007 to stimulate dialog between international nuclear industry professionals. In 2018, AFCEN officially confirmed its role as an observer within MCSTF by appointing Cécile Pétesch (Chair of RCC-MRx) as its representative in CORDEL/MCSTF.
CORDEL/MCSTF compares the rules between different mechanical codes on various subjects, such as non-linear analyses and fatigue, and organizes practical case studies (benchmarks). In 2018, CORDEL consulted AFCEN on the draft benchmark report on fatigue analysis rules.
CEN WORKSHOP 64
A proposal was initially made within CEN to set up a workshop to encourage the different organizations and stakeholders in the ESNII (European Sustainable Nuclear Industrial Initiative affiliated with SNETP and covering Generation IV fast neutron reactors) to help with enhancing the draft version of the RCC-MRx code.
The European Commission has been associated with AFCEN’s initiative since day one and has lent its support ever since.
This proposal was accepted by CEN and joined by 14 European organizations.
Workshop 64 (WS 64), named “Design and Construction Code for mechanical components of innovative nuclear installations”, was created on February 3, 2011. Its terms of reference were compared to those in force within AFCEN’s Subcommittees.
Workshop 64 ran until October 2012 and produced 33 modification proposals for the RCC-MRx code, 20 of which were incorporated into the published edition. Furthermore, 8 of the 13 other proposals, which could not be converted into modification files due to a lack of technical justification, highlighted the need for mid-term changes to the code.
Feedback on the first initiative was considered to be highly satisfactory and rewarding by all stakeholders. Spurred on by these results, AFCEN took the initiative of continuing this action by fine-tuning objectives according to two focus areas:
- invite short-term project leaders to come and work directly in the Subcommittee in order to enhance the code with the driving force adapted to their requirements,
- prepare the future codes within external prospective groups, where parties potentially using codes for medium and long-term projects can express their technical requirements, discuss which supporting evidence is required, any R&D actions needed and the installations where such actions can be carried out.
As part of the first focus area, AFCEN gained three new European members.
The second focus area prompted AFCEN to propose a second phase for Workshop 64 with a broader scope than for Phase 1; in other words, in addition to mechanical engineering for Gen IV nuclear facilities, Phase 2 includes mechanical components for current reactors (based on the RCC-M code) and civil engineering works (based on the RCC-CW code).
This proposal was again accepted by CEN and has currently been joined by 15 organizations.
Workshop 64 - Phase 2, entitled “Design and Construction Code for mechanical and civil engineering for Gen II to IV nuclear facilities (pilot case for process for evolution of AFCEN codes)”, was created on June 6, 2014 for a three-year term, which may be renewed if necessary according to the participants’ needs and interests. Since the workshop's participants experienced difficulties in assimilating the codes, which in turn put the workshop's production phase behind schedule, members formally agreed during the plenary meeting on June 8, 2017 to extend Phase 2 by one year. This extension will enable participants to fully implement the process for ensuring continuous coordination with AFCEN, such as stipulated in the business plan.
The workshop comprises three “prospective groups”, each of which covering one of the aforementioned fields (Gen II-III mechanical engineering, Gen IV mechanical engineering and civil engineering works) and led by renowned experts from organizations that are not AFCEN members.
In each group, AFCEN has delegated a representative from the relevant Subcommittee to guide the group’s work and provide information on the codes and the methods for updating the codes.
Early 2017, AFCEN sent its response to the workshop concerning the 13 proposals issued in 2016. AFCEN agreed to incorporate ten of the proposals without any changes, while agreeing in principle to two other proposals subject to having the necessary time to give the proposals due consideration. However, AFCEN saw no merit in accepting the workshop's proposal of supplementing the codes with requirements relating to independent inspection organizations and explained its reasons accordingly.
Based on the performance of this first stage, AFCEN has proposed continuing this initiative with Phase 3. The kick-off meeting for Phase 3 will be held in January 2019. Phase 3 has four key objectives:
- Strengthen synergistic ties between European experts on nuclear codes to minimize fragmented best practices across the nuclear industry and give international rules greater emphasis while promoting European requirements and practices.
- Allow future nuclear project leaders to raise awareness of their project’s constraints and suggest changes to the codes.
- Engage operators and manufacturers with a collaborative process for preparing and defining a standard for managing aging facilities, sourcing spare parts and extending the service life of nuclear power plants.
- Raise awareness of AFCEN’s codes among entities potentially involved in evaluating nuclear reactors during an invitation to tender for the purpose of developing new nuclear production assets as part of the long-term plan to renew Europe’s existing nuclear infrastructure.
This phase will cover the three codes previously involved in Phase 2 (RCC-M, RCC-MRx and RCC-CW) and will also encompass the RCC-E electrical code if there are enough participants.
ILLUSTRATION OF AFCEN’S PARTICIPATION IN CEN