The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

France’s next president is in for a big nuclear headache.

The next French president’s nuclear problem, Candidates face tough decisions on the country’s nuclear energy future. Politico By 4/20/17,

France’s next president is in for a big nuclear headache.

He or she will have to figure out how to either extend the life of or shut down 58 reactors fast approaching retirement age and keep the country’s energy supply flowing at the same time. All the options risk being complicated and costly — financially and politically — and require savvy planning to encourage France’s dominant electricity company EDF to shift away from an energy source that has long been the core of its business.

The top candidates going into the April 23-May 7 election have widely varying nuclear energy policies, from a far-left push to get rid of it entirely to a far-right call to hang on to the country’s biggest energy source and a decades-old source of pride in the country’s industrial prowess. Center-left front-runner Emmanuel Macron falls somewhere in the middle: He wants to carry on with the existing policy, which aims to shrink the share of nuclear energy in France’s mix from 75 percent to 50 percent.

“These things are being discussed as if they were a matter of opinion, and they are not,” said Mycle Schneider, a Paris-based energy policy adviser. “The financial stress has become so harsh that it is virtually impossible to imagine maintaining a nuclear fleet of 58 reactors. They cannot afford to maintain the status quo, so consecutive shutdowns will be forced upon decisionmakers.”

Despite the industry’s financial problems, navigating the politics of nuclear power can be dangerous in a very close election campaign. A 2016 poll by the French public opinion institute Ifop found that 53 percent of people are against a nuclear phase-out. Right-leaning voters are generally pro-nuclear, while left-leaning ones support a phase-out — which keeps candidates from shifting positions.

EDF and France’s nuclear technology company Areva have experienced huge financial strain in recent years as European power prices dropped and new nuclear plants under construction in France and Finland ran into significant cost overruns and delays. As a result, the French government pushed EDF to take over Areva and approved €3 billion in support before EDF committed to building a new nuclear plant in the U.K. last year. The costs and problems around these projects, however, have raised doubts about the future of Areva’s European Pressurized Reactor technology after the British plant.

Nuclear battle lines

French divisions over nuclear were on display this month in a battle over the closure of France’s oldest nuclear power plant, the 39-year-old Fessenheim………

Whatever the campaign rhetoric, France’s next president will have to take into account an unpleasant truth: Any option is going to cost a lot of money.

Decommissioning nuclear power plants is complicated, long and expensive work, but so is building new reactors or upgrading old ones. A quick nuclear phase-out would cost €217 billion, according to the French liberal think tank Institut Montaigne. The Mélenchon and Hamon campaigns responded by pointing to a Court of Auditors estimate that it would cost €100 billion to keep existing reactors running.


April 22, 2017 - Posted by | France, politics

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: