Six years ago, Eskom, one of the top 10 utilities in the world, joined with the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (IDC), British Nuclear Fuels and the U.S. utility Exelon to create PBMR (Pty) Ltd. to build and market pebble bed modular nuclear reactor-based power plants.
“The beauty of the pebble bed modular nuclear Reactor (PBMR) technology is that it has intrinsically safe features. It cannot suffer a meltdown,” said Juan le Roex, power plant division software systems manager for PBMR. “The nuclear plant is easy to operate and you can regulate the power output. You couldn’t do that with the conventional reactors, which needed to run at 100 percent all the time. Also, the pebble bed design allows us to refuel the plant without shutting it down, which represents enormous cost savings.”
Eskom wants to reduce the country’s dependence on coal from 90 to 70 percent of supply. In 2005, South Africa declared the PBMR project a National Strategic Project, demonstrating the importance of the PBMR development to South Africa’s future. PBMR is on schedule to begin new power plant construction in 2007 and complete the demonstration plant by 2011.
“As our team of PBMR staff and contractors finalizes the nuclear plant design, we have what I call ‘islands’ of information,” said le Roex. “Intergraph’s SmartPlant® Enterprise is providing us with a well-structured integration to bring all the disciplines together.”
Intergraph’s SmartPlant Enterprise is playing a key role in the plant’s design and licensing stage. “We’re actually doing a full-house Intergraph implementation,” said le Roex. “Because we’re operating in an integrated environment for nuclear power plant design, we’ve eliminated a huge amount of work duplication, data transfer and all associated configuration management. Intergraph provided an enormous amount of technical expertise and support by flying out a team of professionals from all over the world to conduct a week-long initial workshop. Our staff is currently being trained in SmartPlant P&ID, SmartPlant 3D, SmartPlant Foundation, MARIAN® and advanced administration,” he said.
“The bottom line for us is that I don’t know how anyone can deliver a complex power plant construction project like this one effectively without using something like the SmartPlant Enterprise suite. We are happy to collaborate with other organizations on best practices and how we have made use of Intergraph’s technology to achieve our goals,” said le Roex.
“If you look at the return on investment over the life cycle of the project and all the time we’ve saved using Intergraph plant software, you’re looking at a very large number. I estimate our savings outweigh the costs by 10 to 1. At the end of the day, we at PBMR hope to become a model Intergraph site.”