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France’s EDF nuclear company is in a complicated mess – time for government action?

11 June 17, Alternatives Economiques, [Machine Translation] Who decides on the energy policy of France,especially for electricity?  The president of EDF, the minister of ecological and solidarity transition, in charge of energy, or the tenant of Bercy?  Perpetual  question that sends a lot of ink and weakens EDF, torn between conflicting interests.

It is time for the government to address the problems ofthe 83% -owned state, which is currently heavily indebted and whose financial situation is worrying.

On 6 April, EDF presented a strategic plan for its future investments as part of its Board of Directors’ plan of multiannual energy programming (PPE) 1 published at the end of October. On April 21, Ségolène Royal wrote to Jean-Bernard Levy, CEO of the EDF group, asking him to review his copy because “the actions foreseen by EDF do not make it possible to respect the objectives of diversification of electricity production set in the PPE “.

Among the points raised by the former minister, the absence of measures or means to prepare the closure of nuclear power plants, such as Fessenheim or coal.

Stopping a power station is not very complicated. Nuclear power stations are shut down regularly in France for maintenance or incidents. On the other hand, preparing the retraining of employees, developing new activities at the level of employment areas, organizing training courses for new trades … all this takes time.

EDF’s strategic plan, silent on these aspects, reveals the company’s will: to drag things out as much as possible. Moreover, it is rumored that EDF would have established a plan to reduce the share of nuclear energy to 50% in the energy mix by 2050 and not 2025 as foreseen in the energy transition law. EDF, but is not in any case in a hurry to revise its
strategic plan transmitted to the State. Why can not the state, which guarantees the implementation of the objectives of the Energy Transition Act, be heard?

For that, it would have to speak with one voice. And that is far from the case. For the shareholder state also has its interests in the matter. According to the Court of Auditors, it received a total of 11.3 billion euros of dividends between 2011 and 2016, an amount that the sages of the rue Cambon consider as exorbitant compared to the usual practices.

This financial interest has up to now pushed the State to support the nuclear sector and to defend the prolongation of the lifetime of power stations already depreciated, according to a short-term vision, which hampers investment in renewable energy energy savings.

But now, things are complicated for EDF, with a drop in its turnover and its production of electricity of nuclear origin. Moreover, very heavy investments are emerging: 55 billion euros in 10 years for the large fairing (upgrading of nuclear reactors), 15 to 20 billion euros for the two British EPRs of Hinkley Point, etc.


June 12, 2017 - Posted by | business and costs, France, politics

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