Nuclear build needs better management to beat its track record - report

Cape Town – Large nuclear projects have a history of being hard to manage and expensive to complete, according to a report by the World Nuclear Association.  

It found that nuclear projects are capital-intensive and may be compromised severely by schedule delays.

Greg Kaser, senior project manager at the World Nuclear Association, was a guest speaker at this week's African Utility Week in Cape Town. He referred to the association's 'Lesson-Learning in Nuclear Construction Projects' report during his presentation.

The report recommends comprehensive planning; a collaborative partnership approach; appropriate procurement strategies; incentives; wide stakeholder engagement; using digital tools to design, plan and project comprehensively; controlled construction environments and a strong culture of safety.

"Information is not the same as knowledge. An organisation's knowledge management system must be able to create, share and use the information and experience gained from its activities and that of others. A key success factor is, therefore, the quality of knowledge," the report found.

"High performance depends on organisational and individual capability, but also on willingness to improve in order to prevent mistakes from recurring."

In the association's view, the rate at which nuclear power plants are built in the world must be increased if the goal of a low-carbon economy is to be reached.

The report found that nuclear construction projects that progressed well usually involved "a wealth of recent experience, knowledgeable vendors and a pool of skilled workers".

Good project management is key

Excellent project management from the start is crucial.

"The right package of incentives can motivate the key stakeholders to resolve problems as they arise while discouraging obstructive behaviours that are designed primarily to limit the parties' individual liability," the report found.

"Standard contractual arrangements may not be sufficient to ensure this and appropriate procurement arrangements and project delivery models are needed to support such a mode of collaborative working."

It is also important to bring vendors into the planning process at an early stage.

"Wider stakeholder engagement with local communities and taking an accommodative approach towards local community concerns will remove the potential of the project to generate opposition," the report recommends.

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