European operator implements new performance tools to maximize lifespans

Finland’s Fortum is introducing resource optimization measures to maximize output and support investments in the long-term safety of nuclear power plants, development experts at Fortum told Nuclear Energy Insider.

Trials at Fortum's Loviisa plant in Finland showed gains using the ReMaint maintenance management model. (Image credit: Fortum Corporation)

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European nuclear power operators are under pressure to prove the economic viability of plants amid low wholesale prices. Utilities must maximize the profitability of ageing plants while factoring in rising nuclear power taxes.

Fortum’s nuclear development specialists told Nuclear Energy Insider that the operator is deploying solutions that make better use of resources and lead to increased productivity and boosted profits. The increased revenue can then be invested in the long-term safety and reliability of operations, securing a competitive future for nuclear energy.

Fortum owns a total of 3.0 GW of nuclear power capacity, 1.5 GW in Finland and 1.5 GW in Sweden. While declining plant profits and nuclear tax hikes have accelerated the closure of several Swedish plants, in Finland nuclear capacity is rising.

Finland’s four nuclear reactor units, two BWRs at Olkiluoto and two PWRs at Loviisa, generate an annual total of around 2.7 GWe, which represents 35% of the country’s capacity. Combined, the four units have 74 years of operational life remaining.

Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) is developing the new 1.6 GW OL-3 EPR plant at Olkiluoto and commercial operation is expected to start at the end of 2018. Construction on a new plant at Hanhikivi, in which Voimaosakeyhtiö SF is majority stakeholder, is scheduled to begin the same year with operations slated to start in 2024.

Fortum is the sole owner of the two 500 MW VVER reactors at the Loviisa complex and they generated 8.47 TWh or about 13% of Finland’s power in 2015. Loviisa 1 has an operating licence valid until 2017 while Loviisa 2 is currently set to operate until 2030.

Fortum has responded to the bearish market by embarking on an upgrade and refurbishment program on all of its operational reactors, as well as investing in developing innovative projects that maximize maintenance efficiency, optimize performance and cut generation costs.

The operator has developed a series of products and services to enhance nuclear safety, engineering, waste management, decommissioning and plant performance. The latest innovation, ReMaint, is a concept designed to optimize maintenance resources and improve safety.

“In today’s business environment, we need to be assured that we are using our resources where they are most needed and produce the best value. In order to focus our resources correctly, we need to define our maintenance strategies and recognize our critical Systems, Structures and Components for production and safety,” Fortum’s development experts said.

Critical added value

ReMaint is a maintenance management model that responds to ever-tightening demands to ensure safe, reliable and profitable operations. It drives optimal resource deployment and decision-making when planning and executing maintenance.

The model refocuses and prioritizes activities and tasks based on a critical rank of systems, structures and components (SSC) applied to production and safety. It includes a comprehensive and integrated set of plant processes with specified inputs and outputs, as well as tools that define strategies, critical classifications and priorities.

The ReMaint model, which can be tailor-made to meet existing operation requirements, allows operators to decide if, when and how much maintenance to undertake, as well as identifying any required spare parts. Productivity is increased, as maintenance resources are allocated more appropriately.

Unnecessary preventative maintenance tasks are removed from planning, enabling resources to be deployed to work on the most critical equipment. There is greater availability of critical equipment, plant reliability is improved and time taken during outages is shortened.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which guide the Corrective Action Programme (CAP) are organized into a hierarchical structure, which enables performance to be followed by staff at all levels across the organisation. Continuous and autonomous improvement is enabled by a feedback loop.

At the Loviisa plant, ReMaint executed the SSC classification and designated 67% of activities as run-to-failure (alternatively known as run-to-maintenance), 29% were categorized as non-critical, 3.5% were critical and 0.5% were labelled as highly critical.

Results showed the run-to-failure strategy released human resources equivalent to six full time employees to tasks classified as more important. There was a decrease in the backlog of work orders for critical components, as assets were run at their most productive and resources allocated to priority activities.

The safety of workers was also enhanced, as results showed a continuous decrease in exposure to cumulative radiation dosage. The Fortum development team stressed the benefit of deploying ReMaint to improve safety during current and future operations.

“Only a profitable company can afford to invest in long-term safety to assure reliable operations in the future,” the development team noted.

By Karen Thomas