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The challenge of managing technological obsolescence in Spanish nuclear power plants

Nowadays, nuclear energy is a fundamental pillar in the energy transition due to its robustness, by guaranteeing the security of supply and the neutrality of greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, it is necessary to guarantee the margins of safety and economic viability on the horizon set by the National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan 2021-2030.

In this context, it is important to highlight the work that is being carried out by the sector to increase the safety and competitiveness of the plants to guarantee long-term safe operation. In the case of the Spanish nuclear plants, due to the imposed scenario by the national climate plan, most of the nuclear power plants will be very close to reaching forty years of operation, which corresponds to their design life. Eventually, the Periodic Safety Review (PSR) must be developed to obtain approval of the plant’s operation for an additional period to operate beyond its design life. In these RPS, the plants must consider specific aspects, such as the management of aging and obsolescence of the equipment.

According to the national regulations and requirements, several licensees have implemented a program to manage in a proactive way the obsolescence as part of their aging management program. However, currently, there is no feedback on the efficiency of these obsolescence management programs, many of them are in their initial or development stages, being difficult to determine how the obsolescence problems could have affected the safety of the plant.

In this context, this article presents a methodology to carry out planning and monitoring of risk-informed obsolescence management. This methodology is currently being developed within a project of the National R&D&I Plan. The main objective of this project is to obtain as a result a tool that would help the Spanish nuclear sector to implement proactive aging and obsolesce management program. 

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