nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Future of the entire Flamanville-3 project with more problems at EPR nuclear reactor

safety-symbol-Smflag-franceMore Problems for the EPR, NuClear News April 15  The French Nuclear Safety Regulator, ASN, announced on 7th April that it had been informed by AREVA of an anomaly in the composition of the steel in certain zones of the reactor vessel head and reactor vessel bottom head of the Flamanville EPR. (1) These fabrication defects are very serious mechanical faults. Quality inspectors found an abnormally high concentration of carbon in steel parts capping the reactor vessel’s top and bottom during a series of tests carried outpressure vessel 1 by French nuclear company Areva, which is building the reactor. The excessive carbon would lead to “lower than expected mechanical toughness values”, nuclear regulator ASN said in a press statement on its website. This obviously raises a question-mark over the safety case for the EPR (European Pressurized Water Reactor) currently under construction in Normandy. The reason why a well‐known material heterogeneity problem was not mastered during the forging of the pieces at Areva’s Le Creusot plant has yet to be investigated. The reason why the defects were detected or publicly released so late, at a moment when the pressure vessel was already in place in the reactor building, also needs to be scrutinised.
Areva will face a very difficult challenge in justifying the safety case of the flawed pressure vessel. The only alternative to demonstrating safety in spite of the faults would be to repair or replace the faulty components, which appears hardly feasible and particularly expensive in the case of the bottom piece. Therefore the future of the entire Flamanville-3 project is at stake. The No2NuclearPower nuClear news No.73, April 2015 3 problem has also international implications, since at least some of the upper and/or lower heads of the Taishan-1 and 2 EPRs, under construction in China, are apparently also concerned. …..http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo73.pdf

April 18, 2015 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

No easy fix for France’s multi-billion dollar Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR)

exclamation-flag-franceFrance’s nuclear power giant beset by setbacks France 24 17 April 15  France, which has one of the most advanced nuclear energy systems in the world, is struggling to remain a major player in the nuclear field as its state-owned company Areva leaks cash and faces safety concerns.

France’s nuclear security authority ASN (Autorité de surete nucléaire) last week declared that a multi-billion dollar Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR) being built by Areva in Flamanville, Normandy has “a serious anomaly”.

The anomaly comes at a difficult time for the French company as it faces a host of setbacks related to the construction of nuclear power plants around the world. ……..

“Either EDF abandons the project or it takes out the vessel and starts building a new one… this would be a very heavy operation in terms of cost and delay,” Pierre-Franck Chevet, head of the ASN, told the French daily ‘Le Parisien’.

So what next for the EPR?

Overall, there doesn’t seem to be an easy fix.

Yannick Rousselet, a nuclear specialist at Greenpeace in France, says that replacing the tank in Flamanville is more difficult than one might think.

“The tank is the only element that you cannot move easily,” Rousselet told FRANCE 24.

“Historically, tanks were not designed with the idea of dismantling them. In addition, the one at Flamanville is already welded in place, and fixed to the pipe of the reactor.”

Because EDF is state-owned, tax payers will ultimately pay the bill for the expensive project, says Rousselet.

“It’s the French who will pay for the mistakes. Officials collectively took us to a dead end.”…….http://www.france24.com/en/20150417-french-nuclear-company-faces-major-setbacks/

April 18, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, France, safety | Leave a comment

France’s State owned nuclear company AREVA now a costly burden

nuclear-costs1Areva Is Costing France Plenty The company thought it had a winning nuclear reactor technology http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-16/france-s-areva-falters-in-reactor-business-leaks-cash Nuclear plants supply almost three-fourths of France’s electricity, and they boast a near-spotless safety record and some of the cheapest electric rates in Europe. In 2001 the government created a state-owned company, Areva, to export French reactors and nuclear know-how to the rest of the world. Those ambitions are now in tatters, offering an object lesson in the dangers of French dirigiste industrial policy.
Beset by a troubled new reactor design and other expensive problems, Areva posted a €4.8 billion ($5.1 billion) loss in 2014 on sales of €8.3 billion. Revenue is expected to shrink 5 percent this year, and the company says it expects to keep hemorrhaging cash. The French government plans to announce a rescue plan before the end of April that’s likely to include asset sales and a bailout from state-owned utility Electricité de France (EDF). “There have been significant strategic errors,” François Brottes, who heads the French Parliament’s economic affairs commission, said at a conference in Paris on March 31. Added Brottes: “Questions have to be asked about the state’s oversight.”

Areva, along with competing reactor builders Westinghouse Electric and General Electric, was hit hard when orders dried up after the 2011 Fukushima accident in Japan. Cheap shale gas and development of renewable energy have compounded those woes. But “you can’t really blame Areva’s plight on Fukushima,” says Steve Kidd, a British nuclear consultant and former executive of the World Nuclear Association, a London-based trade group.

 Under longtime Chief Executive Officer Anne Lauvergeon and her successors, Areva bet heavily on a high-end new design, the Evolutionary Pressurized Reactor, that has been plagued with delays and cost overruns. Lauvergeon, who left Areva in mid-2011 when her contract wasn’t renewed, didn’t respond to messages.

$5.1b
Areva’s loss in 2014, on sales of $8.9 billion
French authorities reported on April 7 that flaws were found in some of the steel used in the reactor vessel of an EPR being built in Normandy. That reactor is five years behind schedule, and its price tag has ballooned from $3.5 billion to $9.3 billion. Areva also is facing an investigation of its 2007 acquisition of Uramin, a Canadian uranium mining company. In 2011, Areva wrote off almost all of the $2.5 billion purchase price after concluding that the ore deposits were of negligible value. The government’s chief auditor, who faulted management for inadequate oversight and possible “dissimulation,” asked prosecutors to look into the Uramin purchase.

The next step for Areva may be a tieup with EDF, its top customer—an idea that horrified the utility’s investors, who dumped the stock after Energy Minister Ségolène Royal suggested it in March. Other government officials have suggested that Areva might work with EDF on engineering and maintenance, stopping short of a full merger.

The company still makes money supplying fuel and reprocessing waste for nuclear plant owners. It’s already clear, though, that Areva won’t be selling many new reactors. North American and European utilities stopped ordering them after the Fukushima accident, and the EPR’s problems have cast a pall over the company’s prospects in China, which now accounts for more than half of the new reactors expected to come online by 2030. Thanks to past collaboration with Areva and other Western suppliers, the Chinese have developed the technology they need to build their own reactors, says Steve Thomas, a professor at the University of Greenwich in England who studies the industry. The reactors built by Areva and Westinghouse “are just too expensive for the Chinese,” he says.

The French government’s 80 percent ownership of Areva helped mask its problems, consultant Kidd says. “Everyone was laughing” at the company’s projections for reactor sales, he says. “Everyone in the know could tell the chickens were going to come home to roost. I don’t think that would have happened in a private business.”

—With Francois de Beaupuy and Tara Patel

The bottom line: Areva’s bid to be the globally dominant maker of reactors was undone by cost overruns and strategic blunders.

April 17, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics | Leave a comment

Global nuclear industry threatened as safety problems revealed at Flamanville reactor

Unfinished nuclear plants raise safety doubts. April 13, 2015 A new generation of giant reactors, meant to provide fresh hope for nuclear power in Europe, has been found to have a serious safety problem. By Paul Brown Climate News Network LONDON − The future of the world’s biggest nuclear reactor, under construction at Flamanville in northern France, is now in doubt after a serious flaw was found in its steel pressure vessel.

Reactor-EPR-Flamanville

Examination has shown that the steel contains too much carbon, which can weaken the vessel’s structure and breaches safety rules. The Chinese, who have two similar 1,600 megawattEuropean Pressurised Reactors under construction, have been warned that they too may share the potentially catastrophic problem.

Investigations are continuing to check whether the problem can be rectified, but whatever happens it will add more delays and greater costs to the already troubled projects.

The problem also casts doubt on the much-heralded nuclear renaissance in Europe, where EPR reactors are being built not only in France but also in Finland.

Four more are planned for Britain, where they form a cornerstone of the UK government’s policy to fight climate change. A decision on whether to go ahead with the first two in the UK has already been postponed twice, and this revelation will cause further delays.

The French nuclear engineering firm Areva, involved in the EPR’s design and development, found the flawed steel and reported the problem to the country’s nuclear regulator, ASN, which has ordered an investigation.  The French energy minister, Ségolène Royal, says the results of tests to check the extent of the problem will be released in October. Continue reading

April 15, 2015 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

100% renewable energy economically feasible for France: government report

renewable-energy-pictureflag-franceFRENCH FEDERAL GOVERNMENT REPORT: 100% RENEWABLE ELECTRICITY BY 2050 IN FRANCE WOULD NOT COST MORE THAN 50% NUCLEAR    http://www.go100percent.org/cms/index.php?id=45&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=395&cHash=c49d899dffe50003b28e67bc8ffa6655The following is a brief summary of a piece that appeared in France’s center-left newspaper Le Monde, which reported on a piece published by Mediapart:

 A report written by the French Environment and Energy Agency (Ademe) has concluded that supplying the nation’s electricity demand with renewables by 2050 would cost about the same as the plan currently favored by President and the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, which is to meet France’s power needs with 50% nuclear, 40% renewables, and 10% fossil fuel by 2050.

Ademe was reportedly to have shared the document with the public on April 14-15, but postponed it was not ready. However, a copy of the report was obtained by the French media and released to to the public, with the aim of raising the debate on French energy policy.

The 120 page report was written with the contribution of the General Direction of energy and climate, which functions under the French Minister of Ecology, and with “an objective of robustness and scientific solidity, the hypotheses and results were vetted by a scientific committee of national and international experts.”

Other highlights from the report, include:
– The potential for electricity generation by renewables in France by 2050 (1268 TWh a year) is triple the nation’s projected electricity demand for that time (422 TWh). Reaching this goal would require demand management that lowers consumption by 14%, despite a projected population increase of 6 million inhabitants.

– Achieving a 100% renewable electricity mix will require diversity of sources. The study projects a mix of 63% offshore and onshore wind, 17% solar, 13% hydro, and 7% thermal energy (including geothermal). The regions with the strongest renewable development potential are the Aquitane, Brittany, Midi-Pyrénées, the Pays de la Loire, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, and Rhône-Alpes.
– The report assumes that pre-tax consumer electricity costs will rise about 30% by mid century whether France opts for a 100% renewable power mix, or a combination of 50% nuclear power, 40% renewables, and 10% fossil fuel (primarily gas).

– Between 2019 and 2025, almost half of France’s 58 nuclear reactors will reach the 40 year lifespan for which they were designed. Even if they are granted a license extension, they must be replaced by newer technology that has continually been rising in price. Decommissioning of the reactors also adds to costs.

 

April 15, 2015 Posted by | France, renewable | Leave a comment

France’s nuclear corporation AREVA in deep financial trouble – needs tax-payer bailout

text-my-money-2Areva in Deep Financial Trouble, The Energy Collective, Dan YUrman 10 Mar 15 French government and investors ask whether it has hit bottom?

It is no secret that state-owned nuclear energy giant Areva has ten tons of financial debt on a five ton truck. After several years of smacking the bumper with a 2 x 4 to keep half of the IOUs in the air, the truck has hit a red light and all the weight of that debt has come down in one place and at one time. This week Areva’s senior leadership went public with the numbers and what they say is a path toward new earnings. Phillip Knoche, the new CEO of Areva, said, “We have to cut our costs and master difficult projects.”

Here’s the bad news

Areva is facing huge financial challenges with reported losses of {e}4.8 billion ($5.4 billion US) compared to a loss of just {e} 500 million last year. Sales were down in 2014 by 8% compared to 2013. The company wrote down assets by {e}1.5 billion, took a {e}1.1 billion charge on three nuclear projects, and wrote off another nearly {e}1billion in assets that it now believes  are essentially worthless. They include a uranium mine bought by former CEO Anne Lauvergeon who’s expansionist strategy overextended the company in terms of its capital requirements.

The bad news isn’t over

This year the firm expects to see a further reduction in sales of at least 5% compared to 2014. The firm will sell off its unprofitable renewable energy business, and other assets, for {e}430 million. It will scale back other investments. Overall, debt has risen to {e}5.8 billion compared to a market cap of {e}3.6 billion. Essentially, the firm is underwater and needs a huge infusion of capital from the French government………

April 6, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics | Leave a comment

France struggles to save its financially strapped nuclear company AREVA

plants-downFrance Renews Push for Nuclear Shake Up Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron urges stronger cooperation between the state-controlled businesses. By  INTI LANDAURO April 2, 2015  PARIS—The French government has turned up the heat on the country’s biggest nuclear-power companies to restructure the industry to help stem multibillion-euro losses at state-controlled equipment maker Areva SA.

Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron has asked Eléctricité de France SA–the operator of France’s fleet of nuclear power stations which provide most of the country’s electricity—to come to the rescue of Areva by deepening their industrial and possibly financial ties.

EDF and Areva, which are both majority-owned by the French state, have to cooperate better over the construction of areva-medusa1nuclear reactors and tendering for international business, Mr. Macron said on Thursday. He said that he has asked both companies to make proposals in the coming weeks………

Changing international attitudes to nuclear power, notably after the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011, have complicated the task for the French government by crimping demand for new business at Areva………

For now, Areva is working on a plan to sell assets, cut costs, reduce capital expenditure and start talks with unions over possible job cuts after posting a €4.8 billion ($5.4 billion) net loss in 2014, the fourth loss in as many years.

The company faces major hurdles with its contract to build a reactor in Finland, which has suffered a series of delays and cost overruns, and has also made a poor investment in uranium mining,……..http://www.wsj.com/articles/french-government-pushes-areva-edf-to-make-tie-up-proposal-1427961063

April 3, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics | Leave a comment

France’s nuclear industry now a liability, with AREVA’s down ward spiral

plants-downFrance’s Nuclear Decline Exposed as Areva Confronts Cash Crunch by , 27 Mar 15, (Bloomberg) — For decades France’s nuclear industry was seen as a source of economic strength, providing cheap power for factories, high-tech exports and tens of thousands of well-paid jobs. Today, it’s looking more like a liability.

Electricite de France SA, the world’s largest nuclear operator, must spend $63 billion over the next decade to keep the country’s aging fleet of 58 reactors running safely. More urgently, nuclear engineer Areva SA, touted as an export champion for a new atomic age, has lost billions from a project in Finland and investments in African uranium mines, raising the prospect of a state bailout…. The financial “sickness” at Areva could prove contagious to the whole nuclear industry, said Juan Camilo Rodriguez, an analyst at Alphavalue SAS…..

“The situation is difficult for Areva,” French Energy Minister Segolene Royal said Monday, just hours after the company shocked investors by saying losses for 2014 would be about 4.9 billion euros ($5.5 billion), more than its market capitalization……

areva-medusa1Areva has been in a downward spiral since the meltdown at Fukushima’s atomic plant in Japan shook the global industry in 2011. The nuclear engineering company, which services existing reactors and supplies them with fuel, has lost about 75 percent of its value since as nations pulled back from atomic projects.

Last November, Areva’s credit rating was reduced to junk status by Standard & Poor’s after it abandoned financial targets. The company blamed its losses on construction of a new reactor on a Finnish island, delays in restarting Japanese plants and a worsening outlook for other export orders.

Before Fukushima, France’s atomic industry was readying for a nuclear energy renaissance. Former EDF Chief Executive Officer Pierre Gadonneix predicted France’s flagship reactor, the giant EPR model, would sell “like hotcakes” around the world.

Over Budget  Fukushima ended the prospect of new reactors in many countries, including Italy and Switzerland, in addition to damping a number of potential export markets for Areva and EDF. Germany decided to shut all its nuclear reactors.

Not a single EPR has yet fired up as construction projects in France’s Normandy region as well as in Finland and China are behind schedule and mostly over budget…….

Against the backdrop of Areva’s financial uncertainty, a long-delayed law that would reduce France’s reliance on nuclear power is in the Senate. Prospects for Areva and EDF will be affected by the decision of lawmakers on whether to shut some reactors……http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-27/france-s-nuclear-decline-exposed-as-areva-confronts-cash-crunch

March 28, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics | Leave a comment

Financially in trouble AREVA is nevertheless advising on marketing Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

areva-medusa1NuScale hires an energy giant to help get its nuclear plant certified Feb 17, 2015,  

Staff Reporter-Portland Business Journal Portland-based NuScale Power has entered an agreement with AREVA to support testing and design of its nuclear power system as it prepares to submit a Design Certification Application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Agency….The agreement gives NuScale access to AREVA’s fuel technology as well as its nuclear testing capabilities…..
NuScale Power is developing a small, modular nuclear power system that is built under factory conditions and deployed to a client’s site….
It expects to submit the document by late 2016 and to secure approval in time for a 2020 commercial launch…..

SMRs-mirage
Fluor Corp. (NYSE: FLR) is its majority investor.http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/blog/sbo/2015/02/nuscale-hires-an-energy-giant-to-help-get-its.htm

March 25, 2015 Posted by | France, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

France’s law on green or solar roofs for new commercial buildings

FRENCH LAW TO REQUIRE GREEN ROOFS OR SOLAR PANELS ON NEW COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS, ecosalon, by  on March 24, 2015 France just passed a new law that will require all new buildings in commercial zones to be covered with green roofs or solar panels.

Environmental groups hope to reduce the energy costs of commercial buildings while creating an urban jungle in the world’s most beloved city of progress…..The law will change the face of the urban landscape in France by promoting more urban greenery.

Green-roofs-Paris

While solar panels have an obvious purpose, the benefits of green roofsare less well known. Not only do they beautify buildings and create space for community gardens, they have a number of other environmental benefits.

In the summer, green roofs retain 70 to 90 percent of precipitation and in the winter they retain 25 to 40 percent of precipitation. This reduces runoff and decreases the stress on sewer systems. The daily dew and evaporation cycle along with the light absorbed by vegetation, help to cool buildings down. Green roofs also reduce smog by slowing the distribution of dust and particulate matter……..

The combination of solar panels and green roofs create dual environmental tools. Both help reduce the power demands on the national grid, especially when temperatures peak in the summer time.

Green roofs are popular in Germany, Australia, and parts of Canada. Since 2009, Toronto has had a similar mandatory law for green roofs on commercial buildings. But they’re also gaining traction in the U.S. New York City leads the pack in green roofs and it’s home to the largest roof top garden in the country. James Farley Post Office is topped with a greening system that saves the massive post office $30,000 per year in energy costs. Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Portland are all home to a number of green roofs.http://ecosalon.com/french-law-to-require-green-roofs-or-solar-panels-on-new-commercial-buildings/

March 25, 2015 Posted by | climate change, France | 1 Comment

Wind turbines in tree shapes to be installed in Paris

TREE SHAPED WIND TURBINES TO BE INSTALLED IN PARIS A French company called New Wind is installing tree-shaped wind turbines at the Place de la Concorde in Paris, France. The company’s founder, Jérôme Michaud-Larivière came up with the idea while in a Paris square, when he “saw the leaves tremble when there was not a breath of air.” He hopes the trees can be used to exploit small air currents flowing along buildings and streets, and could eventually be installed in people’s yards and urban centres………http://www.alternative-energy-news.info/tree-shaped-wind-turbines-paris/

March 25, 2015 Posted by | decentralised, France | Leave a comment

France brings in law ordering solar or plant rooftops for new commercial buildings

Agua-Caliente-solar-projectFrance Says New Roofs Must Be Covered In Plants Or Solar Panels http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/03/20/3636746/franch-rooftops-go-green/ BY ARI PHILLIPS  MARCH 20, 2015  

THE SKY’S THE LIMIT UNDER FRANCE’S NEW GREEN ROOFTOP LAW.According to a new French law approved on Thursday, rooftops on new buildings in commercial zones across France must either be partially covered in plants or solar panels.

Green roofs, which cover rooftop space with a layer of grasses, shrubs, flowers, and other forms of flora, offer a number of benefits. They create an insulating effect, reducing the amount of energy needed to heat or cool a building depending on the season. They increase local access to green space, which often comes at a premium in urban environments. They retain rainwater, thus decreasing runoff and any related drainage issues. They provide a space for urban wildlife, such as birds, to congregate and even nest, and they reduce air pollution by acting as natural filters.

 Green rooftops also significantly reduce the urban “heat island” effect in which urban areas are noticeably warmer than their surroundings. The heat island effect can cause large cities to get 1.8°F to 5.4°F warmer than surrounding areas in the day, and 22°F warmer at night,according to the EPA. This effect happens when buildings, roads, and other developments replace formerly open land and greenery, causing surfaces to become moist and impermeable, and to warm up.

Approved by French Parliament, the law was scaled back from initial proposals by environmental groups asking for green roofs to cover the entire rooftop surface of all new buildings. The compromise gave businesses a choice to install solar panels instead or to only cover part of the roof in foliage.

Even in a trimmed-down form, the law is trailblazing and will both change the urban landscape of cities across France as well as potentially inspire other countries to follow suit, especially with the United Nations’ climate summit coming to Paris at the end of the year.

France has lagged behind other major European countries like Germany, Italy and Spain in solar power development. As of last summer, France had just over five gigawatts of photovoltaic capacity, accounting for around one percent of total energy consumption. Germany has nearly 40 GWs installed. France is heavily reliable on nuclear power for its energy, and nuclear generation in 2012 made upabout 83 percent of the country’s total generation.

March 22, 2015 Posted by | decentralised, France | Leave a comment

France’s nuclear company AREVA – too big to fail?

areva-medusa1France’s nuclear love affair too strong to let Areva fail http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/03/11/uk-france-nuclear-areva-idUKKBN0M71FF20150311 BY MICHEL ROSE AND GEERT DE CLERCQ PARIS   (Reuters) – The future of France‘s nuclear industry has never looked bleaker, with a government pledging to wean the country off atomic power, cut-throat rivalry in world export markets and the debt of flagship nuclear group Areva in junk territory.

But even with a painful overhaul and lean years ahead for the nuclear sector, the fuel which after World War Two powered France’s rise to the Group of Seven nations remains the bedrock of its energy independence and is so strategically vital that Paris will not let Areva (AREVA.PA) fail.

That is the premise underpinning a new industrial strategy due to be announced by Areva and domestic utility EDF (EDF.PA) in coming months, while President Francois Hollande is softening his resolve to reduce the share of nuclear in France’s electricity mix.

“Neither the government nor EDF can afford to let Areva die,” said former Areva executive Bertrand Barre, who noted that U.S. nuclear giant Westinghouse suffered a 30-year order drought but survived – albeit as part of Japan‘s Toshiba. (6502.T)

Areva’s record 4.83 billion euro (3.4 billion pounds) 2014 loss underlined the troubles of a group which since its 2001 creation never managed to become a world leader in nuclear newbuild.

Over the last few years a series of shockwaves have jolted the case for nuclear: the 2011 Fukushima disaster; Germany‘s exit from nuclear; rising renewable energy output; and the U.S. shale gas revolution.

Already weakened by billions of euros lost on a fixed-price, turnkey reactor project in Finland and an African uranium mine, Areva had limited reserves to ride out the storm.

Hollande has charged Areva’s new management team, led by Philippe Varin, to work with EDF to come up with a new industrial and financial strategy by end July.

Details are scarce so far, but industry sources agree that one likely outcome is a deeper involvement of EDF, possibly a capital stake, in Areva’s reactor business and a possible sale of part of its uranium mines to Chinese investors.

Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron told Reuters on Monday the two firms could forge an industrial alliance and that EDF may consider a capital investment in Areva’s reactor business.

ROYAL “TURNAROUND”

At the same time, there has been a toning down of Hollande’s campaign promise to cut the share of nuclear power in France’s electricity generation from 75 percent to 50 percent by 2025.

“We never said we wanted to exit nuclear energy altogether. We want to exit the previous all-nuclear policy,” Energy Minister Segolene Royal said in January.

Despite repeated questions, including from Reuters, Royal has refused to commit to Hollande’s 2025 target, made during his election campaign, and has come out in support of building new nuclear plants to replace older ones, the first time for a member of this government.

It remains to be seen whether the target will survive Royal’s energy transition bill, which is currently going through parliament, but analysts notice a subtle shift.

Montpellier University professor Jacques Percebois said France realises that if it wants to sell reactors abroad, it needs to be careful about how it winds down nuclear at home.

“That is what is behind the turnaround that we are seeing now – including from Segolene Royal,” he said.

That turnaround would come at a political cost to Hollande, whom ecologists will accuse of breaking his promises. But with the Ukraine crisis pushing security of supply to the fore,France – which gets just 15 percent of its gas from Russia – suddenly feels quite comfortable about nuclear.

Even if it were to reach its 2025 target, France is so deep into nuclear that it is unlikely to want to spend much on German wind turbines or Chinese solar panels and will focus on saving the 220,000 jobs in its nuclear industry.

Half of EDF’s 58 reactors will reach their designed age limit of 40 years in the 2020s and the utility has estimated it will cost about 300 billion euros to modernise its fleet and replace it with new reactors from 2030 onwards.

AREVA’S FUTURE

This is a potential windfall for Areva, which will work on extending the lifespan of EDF’s nuclear fleet while it waits for France to start building new reactors again.

When it finishes the sole reactor it is building in France, Areva is expected to get a significant part of EDF’s 55 billion euro budget to extend the lifespan of its reactors.

It can also make money from countries getting out of nuclear altogether.

In Europe, where dozens of reactors will be dismantled in Germany, Britain, Belgium and other countries in the next decade, Areva is a top player in nuclear decommissioning, which already generates 500 million of its 8.3 billion euro revenue.

“Areva is well placed, as it is one of the few players with experience in decommissioning various types of nuclear installations, including reactors,” an Areva spokeswoman said.

The company has built nearly 100 reactors around the world, in France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and China and is servicing more than 250 of the 440 operating reactors worldwide.

More than half of these reactors are over 30 years old and 73 are more than 40 years old, IAEA data show.

“It’s a future engine of growth, even if it’s not revving up yet” said Jean-Marie Chevalier, a energy economics professor at Dauphine University in Paris.

(Editing by Mark John and Anna Willard)

March 13, 2015 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

AREVA lost $5.6 billion in 2014, ( total market capitalization of $3.5 billion!)

nuclear-costs1France’s Areva Lost $5.6 Billion In 2014 – Is This The Endhttp://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Nuclear-Power/Frances-Areva-Lost-5.6-Billion-In-2014-Is-This-The-End.html By Nick Cunningham, 08 March 2015

Could France, a heavyweight in nuclear power, begin to see its position crumble?

Areva, France’s iconic nuclear power builder, reported a massive financial loss for 2014. The state-owned company revealed that it lost 4.9 billion euros ($5.6 billion) in 2014, an enormous decline from the 500 million euro loss it posted the previous year.

Weighing on the company is its much-heralded rector in Finland. The Olkiluoto 3 unit under construction in Finland was supposed to be completed in 2009, but it has since turned into a nightmare. Billed as the first Generation III+ pressurized water reactor – dubbed the Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR) by Areva – the project was intended to demonstrate nuclear technology that had advanced well beyond the designs seen in today’s operational power plants, which were built in the 1970’s. Now expected to be completed in 2018, the decade of delay coulddouble the reactor’s eventual total cost.

Also, Areva is building another reactor in Normandy that has suffered a similar fate. The Flamanville 3 is several years behind schedule – it may not come into operation until 2016 or 2017 after an original start date of 2012. That reactor, which will be operated by fellow state-owned nuclear operator EDF, has also seen its costs skyrocket because of the delays.

While Areva’s $5.6 billion loss may be shocking at first glance, it looks even worse when compared to the company’s total market capitalization of $3.5 billion. In other words, Areva lost more money in 2014 than the company is worth in its entirety. Despite what appears to be an obvious need for injection of cash to keep the company afloat, France’s energy minister Segolene Royal said that it is “too early” to discuss such a measure, although she added that “all solutions are being looked at.”

The delays from multiple projects have one thing in common – they are using Areva’s EPR design, which has proven to be far more complex than anticipated. That raises serious questions about Areva’s future as a leading nuclear power company. “The EPR is a rotten design that they should have given up on a long time ago,” Steve Thomas, a professor at the University of Greenwich in Britain, told the New York Times last year. Areva’s share price has plummeted over the last year as it became clear the company was quickly burning through cash.

Compounding Areva’s problems is the fact that the west is no longer building nuclear reactors, aside from a few projects in the U.S. Even worse, France, which is the second largest generator of nuclear power in the world (and the leader in terms of percentage of total electricity from nuclear power), is considering a transition away from nuclear power.

French President Francois Hollande has pledge to cut France’s reliance on nuclear power by one-third by 2025. That is easier said than done for a nation that gets 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear. The French National Assembly approved a bill late last year that would slash nuclear’s share down to 50 percent over the next decade, but the Senate is trying to water down the bill. While the outcome is uncertain, what is clear is the fact that France – a global champion in nuclear power – is set to shrink its nuclear energy sector.

To make matters worse, a few safety issues have cropped up in recent weeks that could amount to a significant blow for nuclear power in Europe. A leak at the Fessenheim plant on the border with Germany and Switzerland was discovered in late February, forcing the plant’s temporary closure. This is the same plant that President Hollande specifically pledged to close during his 2012 presidential campaign.

And in neighboring Belgium, cracks have formed in the walls of the pressure vessels at several plants, raising alarm about their safety. The cracks at Belgium’s Doel 3 and Tihange 2 point to a potentially larger problem. Experts fear “material fatigue,” the possibility that radiation is wearing down the materials much quicker than expected. Such a development, if true, “could be a problem for the entire global nuclear industry,” said Jan Bens, general director of the Belgian Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC), according to Deutsche Welle.

Aging European nuclear power plants, potentially presenting serious safety concerns, could well be slated for closure in the coming years. With France’s nuclear champion, Areva, unable to build suitable replacements, France is quickly seeing its position as a global leader in nuclear power slip.

March 11, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, France | Leave a comment

Nuclear developments on hold, as Areva asks NRC to suspend nuclear reactor design review

areva-medusa1Areva asks NRC to suspend nuclear reactor design review http://www.power-eng.com/articles/2015/03/areva-asks-nrc-to-suspend-nuclear-reactor-design-review.html 03/06/2015 Areva Inc. has asked the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to suspend its design certification review of Areva’s European Pressurized Reactor (EPR).

 Areva’s request was made on Feb. 25, days before the France-based parent company announced losses of more than $5 billion for 2014, according to World Nuclear News. The company requested the NRC to suspend work on all submittals in active review and to not post any new charges to the EPR design certification docket after March 27.

The announcement also puts on hold plans for the Calvert Cliffs 3 nuclear unit in Maryland, which was going to use the EPR reactor design. Unistar Nuclear Energy also asked the NRC to suspend review of its combined operating license application just days after Areva’s request.

The U.S. EPR is based on the EPR reactor currently under construction in France and Finland and planned for construction at Hinkley Point C in the UK, the article said.

March 7, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, France, USA | Leave a comment

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