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France’s nuclear hopes dashed, as renewable energy outpaces nuclear

Le Monde 12th May 2018 [Machine Translation] Energy: “French stubbornness on the nuclear path is a
risky strategy”. The French choice for nuclear power is all the more dangerous because it is economically outpaced by other sources of energy, says economist Aurélien Saussay in a forum at the “World”. With the new
multiannual energy program (EPP), in public debate until June 30, France seems to have to renew its wishes for nuclear loyalty. The proponents of the status quo advance mostly economic arguments. Only nuclear electricity, flagship of French technology, would be able to meet our needs for a reasonable cost, while not emitting greenhouse gases.

The economic health of the sector is however not reassuring. Contrary to the hopes of a “renaissance” raised in 2007 at the launch of the EPR project in Flamanville, the past decade has proved disastrous for French and international nuclear power. Areva, which had designed and managed the EPR, was in a critical situation in 2016, after suffering a cumulative loss of 10 billion euros from 2011 to 2015. Only the injection of nearly 5 billion euros by the state and a drastic restructuring saved the company from bankruptcy.

Numerous reactor projects have been canceled in recent years in Brazil, South Africa and the United States. Main exception: China, with 20 reactors under construction and 60 more planned for the coming decade. The world’s first EPR commissioned will be located in southeastern China.

Apart from this Chinese specificity, how to explain the defeat, in France and abroad, of an industry promised to the most beautiful future only ten years ago? If “historic” nuclear power cost only € 0.04 / kWh, an EPR kWh
should exceed € 0.12. However, other technologies for generating electricity without greenhouse gas emissions, such as solar photovoltaic or wind, have followed an exactly opposite cost trajectory. In the case of solar, the fall is spectacular: some international projects have crossed the threshold of 0.04 € / kWh.


May 14, 2018 - Posted by | ENERGY, France

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