Arthur D Little report – Nuclear New Build Unveiled

Global management consultancy Arthur D. Little has produced a major new study that examines the management and technology issues facing nuclear new build projects and provides a comprehensive framework to help owners overcome potential obstacles and reduce risk. “Nuclear New Build Unveiled” analyzes the current status of and trends within the nuclear industry, particularly in the context of many projects being run on very tight time schedules by teams with little or no experience of nuclear new build.

The study concludes that, besides its technical complexity, the management issues of a nuclear new build are often underestimated and call for professional management of the venture.

In order to provide detailed insights on the approach taken by nuclear new build owners, Arthur D. Little has developed a database which includes over 150 projects currently under construction or planned, totaling 562 new reactor units.  Used as a central analysis tool, information areas include general project characteristics, technology, licensing, financing and procurement.  Along with in-depth interviews with market participants, the database has enabled Arthur D. Little to identify a number of challenges facing the nuclear industry.

The new build of nuclear power plants is one of the present day’s most complex technical undertakings and frequently puts owners in the position of facing tremendous financial risks.  Arthur D. Little’s study reveals that inaccurate understanding of projects risks and inaccurate prioritization of critical activities often lead to significant delays and budget overruns.  Issues include:

  • Start of construction before design completion
  • Insufficient incorporation of regulatory requirements into design and drawings
  • Insufficient schedule integration and exchange of involved suppliers and owner
  • Lack of strategic and operational planning by the owner
  • Hesitant implementation of countermeasures for identified risks and constraints
  • Lack of timely provision of suitably qualified and experienced staff

“New build decision makers often do not manage projects from a holistic perspective and underestimate existing Interdependencies between project activities,” comments Dr. Matthias von Bechtolsheim, Director, Energy & Utilities Practice at Arthur D. Little and co-author of the study. “All evidence suggests that the management challenge, as well as the technology challenge, of nuclear new builds must not be underestimated.”

You can download the full report here.