ENEN III Project summary
There is a strong need for high level training of young specialists in the nuclear sector. This is due to the combination of the ageing of the actual manpower and the starting nuclear renaissance. It is critical to maintain the safety and efficiency of the existing nuclear installations and to build and prepare the development of the next generations of facilities. Well designed training is therefore necessary, allowing the handling of the technical challenges with all safety assurances.
Major industrial organisations have the means, both in terms of expertise and finances, to hire young engineers and to train them for the specific duties, through a combination of in-house programmes, training courses available on the market, and, not to be neglected, on-the-job training. It is much more problematic for smaller organisations and in countries where recent policies with respect to nuclear energy has led to the decrease in nuclear education and research funding. Synergies would be beneficial in all cases.
The assessment of the needs identified a list of generic types of training where specific training schemes have to be developed including training sessions, seminars, workshops, etc. to constitute the portfolio offered to postgraduates and professionals for training and further personal development. Training schemes in the following four generic types will be developed in the project:
Type A) Basic training in selected nuclear topics for non-nuclear engineers and professionals in the nuclear industry.
The shortage of engineers with basic nuclear knowledge with respect to the demands of the industry leads to the concept of providing education and training of nuclear topics to non-nuclear engineers during graduation or as postgraduate courses. The target group consists of engineers supporting the operation of a Nuclear Power Plant, for example:
- Programme Engineer
- Performance/Reliability Engineer
- System/Component/Maintenance Engineer
- Design Engineer
- Safety Assessment Engineer
The experience obtained during the FP6 NEPTUNO project will be exploited to define the qualification profile with the required knowledge and skills. The NEPTUNO project aimed at a few key positions in the plant, outlining the job descriptions, the corresponding set of core qualifications and competences and a recommended training programme. The current ENEN-III project intends to provide essential knowledge and skills to a broader target group of professionals working in the nuclear industry.
Type B) Basic training in selected nuclear topics for personnel of contractors and subcontractors of nuclear facilities.
Nuclear facilities contractors are defined as any personnel working for a nuclear facility who are not directly employed by this nuclear facility.In 2001, the International Atomic Energy Agency published a technical document on assuring the competence of NPP contractor (and subcontractor) personnel. The document displays general conclusions and recommendations, followed by a diversity of contractor personnel assessment schemes and utility case studies. The compilation of the individual approaches in different countries and by different utilities is certainly very valuable, but the variety observed shows that a common and mutually recognised training scheme for NPP contractor and subcontractor personnel would be beneficial and provide considerable added value on a European scale.
Contractor personnel provide essential services to nuclear power plants, particularly during plant outages or for projects involving major upgrades to plants. In providing these services contractor personnel encounter similar problems to those that challenge nuclear power plant personnel. Accordingly, contractor personnel must be similarly competent and effectively interface with NPP personnel when performing their assigned duties. It is in this context that a well-designed training scheme would assure the competence of contractor personnel. Accreditation and recognition of the training scheme on a European level would alleviate the assessment of the contractors' competence and skills by the utilities.
Type C) Technical training for the design and construction challenges of Gen III Nuclear Power Plants.
The Generation III reactors currently in the construction and planning stages have been designed on the basis of several fundamentally different concepts with respect to Generation II reactors and their evolutionary improvements and backfittings. Following the categorisation of those concepts by T. Dominguez, five different fields can be identified and the challenges they represent should be addressed in the education and training programme for the engineers involved in the detailed design and construction of those GEN III plants.
The first field is the technology, including passive safety systems, for extensive use of mixed oxide fuels, high burn-up resistant fuels, new materials, etc. The second field is the international dimension of the GEN III design, forcing and requiring the harmonisation of licensing criteria and procedures, of quality standards, certification programmes and validation tests. The third field relates to the changing infrastructure and organisation of the construction projects, involving the utilities, the vendors, the safety organisations and their interactions. Cost optimisation strategies by reducing the construction period and exploitation of past operational experience to reduce or eliminate unnecessary margins and tolerances is the fourth category. The recovery of infrastructures and component manufacturing techniques is an additional element in this category. Finally, the extensive availability and use of innovative engineering software tools, 3D models, standardisation, optimisation and automatisation is a fifth field to be addressed in the training of the new nuclear engineer.
Training schemes for GEN III construction should therefore address the innovative technologies, the safety requirements, the project stakeholders, interactions and logistics, the operational experience, and the design codes, standards and tools.