The federal government has decided to allow the future MYRRHA research installation to be included in the list of Belgian projects for the new investment plan of the European Commission to the amount of 1.5 billion euros. In 2009, the investment was estimated as being 960 million euros as of 2009. This amount, updated in terms of euros as of 2014, approximates to 1.1 billion.
The MYRRHA project is also part of the projects which were proposed by the European Commission's DG for Research and Innovation. The importance of MYRRHA as a large-scale European research infrastructure is also evident from this.
The costs of the large-scale projects in the final phase of design are continuously being refined. This is also the case for MYRRHA. We need to factor in, amongst other things, the impact of the stress tests following the accident in Fukushima and the additional safety requirements imposed by the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC)
SCK•CEN has adapted the design of MYRRHA for this purpose. This includes additional passive cooling systems and a further strengthening of its ability to withstand seismic activity. The added cost is estimated at 100 to 150 million euros. In addition, a 20 % margin was applied on the investment amount to take account of unforeseen circumstances. The total sum then comes to 1.5 billion euros.
There have already been discussions for some time now with various countries about taking part in MYRRHA. We have established that the financial crisis and the accident in Fukushima do have an impact on the decision-making process of these potential partners. The discussions with Japan are well-advanced and the country is considering a participation of at least 10 % in the project. Japan considers MYRRHA to be an indispensable intermediate phase in its global strategy for managing nuclear waste.
Germany has set up an international committee under the direction of ACATECH1 to evaluate MYRRHA. The report has been submitted to the German government and discussions about participation are on-going.
MYRRHA was selected by the European Investment Bank as a potential project for financing via the InnovFin program. Negotiations will start at the end of January 2015.
Collaboration and support
Since launching the project in 1998, a number of joint ventures have been signed with research institutions from various European and non-European countries. These have resulted in an annual contribution of about 3 million euros. The European Commission has been supporting MYRRHA since 1999 through the scientific framework programs. Moreover, in the new Horizon 2020 program, well over 11 million euros has been invested in MYRRHA, 9 million of which by the EC.
The federal government has promised gradual financial support in its coalition agreement to continue within an international context with this essential research into innovative solutions for highly radioactive waste, materials research on fusion reactors, fundamental nuclear research and, of course, also for retaining the production of medical radio-isotopes in our country. We are expecting news on this in the coming weeks.
1ACATECH: “Deutsche Akademie der Technikwissenschaften” ['German Academy of Science and Engineering']