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Flamanville nuclear reactor repairs will cost $13.6 billion

EDF Cost Overrun at French Plant Piles Pressure on Nuclear Giant, by
Francois De Beaupuy, October 9, 2019, 
  •  Repairs at Flamanville reactor will lift cost to $13.6 billion
  •  Plant won’t load nuclear fuel until end of 2022 at earliest
Electricite de France SA said repairs of faulty welds at a nuclear plant under construction in western France will boost the project’s cost by 14% to 12.4 billion euros ($13.6 billion), adding further financial strain to the cash-strapped atomic power giant.

The latest budget hike at the Flamanville-3 reactor is yet another blow to the French state-controlled utility, which raised its cost estimate for two similar reactors it’s building in the U.K. just weeks ago. It also fuels doubts about nuclear’s future in France, where the government has been reluctant to approve new projects before Flamanville-3 is online….. (subscribers only)


October 12, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, France, safety | Leave a comment

EDF’s Flamanville nuclear project – more costs, more delays

EDF adds further €1.5bn to Flamanville nuclear plant costs  French energy group also confirms latest delay to opening of long-awaited project.

David Keohane in Paris 9 Oct 19, French energy giant EDF announced increased costs to its long-troubled flagship nuclear project at Flamanville on Wednesday as it confirmed delays to the opening of the plant due to faulty weldings. The company said construction costs would rise by €1.5bn to €12.4bn and the loading of nuclear fuel would be delayed until the end of 2022, which had previously been scheduled for the end of 2019 with commercial activity starting in 2020. The group, which is 83.7 per cent owned by the French government, had flagged the delays at the plant in north-western France to the end of 2022 during its half-year results in July. Flamanville was originally expected to cost €3.3bn and start operations in 2012.

Analysts at Morningstar said that the increase in costs was in line with estimates but warned “the worst-case scenario has not gone away totally” — alternative more expensive plans — since EDF had to get approval for its repair proposals by the end of 2020. This involves the use of remotely operated robots. Flamanville is considered a litmus test for the next-generation European Pressurised Reactor technology. One EPR is already up and running in China, but Flamanville remains the bigger test for EDF because it is 100 per cent owned by the company and the French regulators are known to be exacting. There are two other EPR projects being built in Europe: The Olkiluoto project in Finland, which is more than a decade late, and the UK’s Hinkley Point, which EDF warned in September would cost an extra £2.9bn to complete.

The news comes as EDF pushed back the formal presentation to the government of an internal reorganisation plan, called Project Hercules, which had been due by the end of the year, at the request of French president Emmanuel Macron.  Project Hercules will create a government-owned mother company, EDF Bleu, containing the nuclear assets as well as hydroelectric assets. Bleu’s main subsidiary, EDF Vert, will house renewable energy, the networks and the services businesses and will be listed, with some 20 per cent to 40 per cent sold to raise funds.

The quid pro quo for the reorganisation, as seen by EDF, is a new regulated price for nuclear energy, assuming it can be agreed with Brussels. However, Project Hercules has been deferred due to delays in discussions with Europe. In an internal email to staff sent late last week, EDF chief executive Jean-Bernard Lévy said “a reorganisation without better regulation would not be enough to give EDF the financial means to play its role in the investments necessary for the success of [France’s] energy transition”.

October 10, 2019 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear company EDF denounced by France’s economy minister as a “state within a state”

Times, 30 Sept 19  President Macron’s economy minister has accused the French state-owned
company building Britain’s new nuclear plant of “unacceptable” failings as he threatened sweeping change at the group.
Bruno Le Maire said yesterday that the French nuclear sector was like “a state within a state” and he
denounced cost overruns and delays in the construction of the Hinkley Point C nuclear reactor in Somerset and similar projects in Flamanville in Normandy and Olkiluoto in Finland. “We will not accept this drift month after month, year after year,” Mr Le Maire said.
His words appeared to weaken the position of Jean-Bernard Lévy, 64, who was given a second
four-year term as chief executive of EDF by Mr Macron in February. Mr Le Maire said that he had ordered an independent audit into the French nuclear industry, which provides about 75 per cent of nation’s electricity, and into the decision to build a new generation of the increasingly questioned European pressurised reactors in Britain, France, Finland and China.
 The conclusions will be delivered on October 31, he said. The audit will interest Whitehall, given that the EPRs being built in Somerset are supposed to supply 7 per cent of Britain’s electricity. EDF said last week
that Hinkley Point C would cost £3 billion more than expected and may not meet its latest launch date of 2025, which is already eight years late.
The glitches at Hinkley Point C come after setbacks at Flamanville, which initially was due to come on stream in 2012 at a cost of €3.3 billion, but which will not now be linked to the grid until 2022 at the earliest at a cost of at least $10.9 billion. The Finnish plant was scheduled to be operational in 2009, but is still not complete.

October 4, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics | 2 Comments

faulty parts found in a number of France’s nuclear reactors

10% of French Nuclear Reactors Have Potentially Faulty Parts Installed as Fukushima Fears Persist

September 19, 2019 Posted by | France, incidents | Leave a comment

Iodine tablets for 2.2 million people in France

September 19, 2019 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

Fears of nuclear closures in France, as welding faults found in more nuclear reactors

France flags welding fault at five or more EDF nuclear reactors, PARIS (Reuters) 13 Sept 19, – At least five nuclear reactors operated by French utility EDF might have problems with weldings on their steam generators, a fault which has raised fears of closures, France’s nuclear regulator was quoted as saying.

State-controlled EDF, whose shares were down 0.9% on Thursday, had said on Tuesday it had identified issues with weldings of some existing reactors, sparking a stock price fall of nearly 7%.

France has the world’s second-largest fleet of nuclear reactors behind the United States, but a spate of technical problems, coupled with hitches at reactors under construction, has tarnished EDF’s image as a leader in nuclear technology.

EDF has exported to China, Finland, South Africa and South Korea, with Britain also set to use its equipment.

“At least five nuclear reactors are affected by this problem,” Le Figaro newspaper quoted Bernard Doroszczuk, head of the ASN regulator, as saying.

“EDF has advised that in around a week it will give an exact number of facilities affected,” Doroszczuk added.

A spokesman for EDF said that there was no plan to shut down the reactors involved for the time being, but the situation could change and it would be for ASN to decide.

The spokesman added that EDF could also decide to halt the affected reactors……..

September 14, 2019 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

France’s loyalty to the nuclear industry is now fading

France’s nuclear love affair shows signs of souring,   September 11, 2019

Electricite de France SA’s announcement that some of its nuclear reactors at home may contain substandard components is the latest setback in the country’s 40-year love affair with atomic energy.

France launched its nuclear program in the 1970s to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels as unprofitable coal mines progressively closed and Western economies were roiled by two consecutive oil shocks. EDF commissioned 58 reactors between 1978 and 2002, which has seen the country get more of its power from nuclear than any other nation. It also means it’s got an aging energy infrastructure, with its oldest plants embarking on large modernization programs to extend their lifecycle.

“The French nuclear fleet is now aging, meaning that some plants will have to be halted in the next 15 years,” said Marc-Antoine Eyl-Mazzega, director of the Center for Energy at the Institut Francais des Relations Internationales. “Some say that nuclear energy is very risky. Renewable energies come with tens of thousands of jobs, but France has been lagging behind.”

After commissioning its 58th reactor in 2002, EDF started building a new type of atomic plant in 2007. Its flagship Flamanville project in Western France was initially due be completed in 2012, though it’s been beset by construction problems.

EDF has also faced setbacks at its existing fleet of French reactors. In 2016, its main supplier Framatome disclosed anomalies in manufacturing records for large equipment, leading to prolonged halts at almost a third of the utility’s reactors. Tuesday’s announcement’s by EDF that some of its reactors may contain substandard components made by Framatome, now 75.5%-owned by EDF, is reigniting fears of prolonged shutdowns.

Given France gets three quarters of its energy generation from nuclear energy, the financial impact of disruption could be severe.

“There should be a significant uplift in French and Central European power prices based on likely future French nuclear outages, which could potentially mean EDF having to buy French generation output that it is short at a premium price,” Barclays Bank analysts Peter Crampton and Dominic Nash wrote in a note.

The stakes are high for the French nuclear industry, which employs about 220,000 people. President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to reduce nuclear output to 50% of France’s power mix in 2035 by shutting down 14 aging reactors to make room for renewables.

Even as the price of electricity stemming from wind and solar has sunk below that of new nuclear builds, the French president has asked EDF to prove by mid-2021 that it can build more competitively-priced nuclear plants, to provide large volumes of carbon-free power as a 100% renewable electricity system seems likely to remain out of reach for at least several decades.

It comes as state-controlled EDF struggles to fund the billions of euros needed each year to maintain its nuclear plants and build new ones within existing cash flows. It’s considering spinning off a minority stake in an entity that would include its power-distribution, renewables and energy-services businesses to raise funds.

September 12, 2019 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

Europe’s record heat linked to climate change. Deaths in France


Agnes Buzyn explained on France Inter radio on Sunday that there had been at about 1,000 more deaths than normal during the summer months, with half of the deceased being 75 or older, the French newspaper Le Monde reported. In total, she said there were 18 exceptionally hot days recorded in France during June and July.

Although the number of deaths was high, Buzyn also pointed out that it was much lower than the 15,000 deaths that occurred during scorching summer heat wave back in 2003. The minister attributed the lower death toll in 2019 to a successful public awareness campaign.

“We have succeeded — thanks to prevention, thanks to workable messages the French population heeded — to reduce fatalities by a factor of 10,” she said, according to the Associated Press.

Paris, the French capital, experienced its hottest day ever recorded in July, with the temperature soaring above 108 degrees Fahrenheit. The previous record, documented in 1947, was just under 105 degrees.

Elsewhere in Europe, multiple countries recorded exceptionally hot summer temperatures as scientists pointed to the growing global impact of climate change.

In Germany, the temperature nearly hit 107 and in the Netherlands it narrowly surpassed 105 back in July. In Belgium, the temperature soared above 104, which was a new record as well. In fact, all three countries broke their hottest-ever recorded temperature records twice within 24 hours, British newspaper The Guardian reported at the time…….

A study conducted by a team of European scientists linked the intense heat wave directly to man-made climate change……..

September 9, 2019 Posted by | climate change, France | Leave a comment

France pledges to press Iran to comply with nuclear deal

France pledges to press Iran to comply with nuclear deal By Sara Dorn, France will continue pressuring Iran to comply with the 2015 nuclear deal, a top official said Saturday.

“We must do everything we can to contribute to ease tensions with Iran and to ensure navigation safety,” French defense minister Florence Parly said during a joint press conference with U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper in Paris.

“We can only confirm our goal, which is to bring Iran to fully respect the Vienna deal,” Parly said.

Meanwhile, Iranian officials said Saturday the country has begun using centrifuges to enrich uranium, a key ingredient for nuclear weapons.

Iran ramped up its nuclear activity in July in response to President Trump’s reinstatement of sanctions that were nixed during the nuclear deal made with Iran and world leaders in Vienna in 2015.

Iran has said it would come back into compliance with the pact if Europe helps the country work around the US sanctions to sell crude oil on the international marketplace.

September 8, 2019 Posted by | France, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

The rocketing costs of Jules Horowitz materials testing reactor (JHR) hastened the demise of the Astrid fast nuclear reactor project

Jim Green  Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch Australia     The World Nuclear Association noted in June 2019 that the development of a commercial fast reactor is no longer a high priority in France.
Indeed the Astrid project ‒ a planned demonstration fast reactor ‒ is in the process of being indefinitely postponed or abandoned altogether, Le Monde reported in August 2019: pre-project design studies will be completed then shelved; the 25-person unit coordinating the project has been disbanded; the project might be pursued in the second half of the 21st century according to CEA (while a CEA inside source told Le Monde that the project is “mort” (dead); Astrid has been removed from budget allocations; and the project lacks support from energy utility EDF.
One of the reasons the Astrid project has been cancelled (or deferred to the second half of the century) is belt-tightening in the wake of another failing project: the 100 MW Jules Horowitz materials testing reactor (JHR). The cost of JHR has increased from €500 million to €2.5 billion and will increase further before completion. Completion of JHR will be at least eight years behind schedule if the current completion date of 2022 is met (the planned five-year construction schedule has been pushed out to 13 years).

September 1, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, France | Leave a comment

France’s plan for a Generation IV nuclear reactor bites the dust

France drops plans to build sodium-cooled nuclear reactor. PARIS (Reuters) – France’s CEA nuclear agency has dropped plans to build a prototype sodium-cooled nuclear reactor, it said on Friday, after decades of research and hundreds of millions of euros in development costs.

Confirming a report in daily newspaper Le Monde, the state agency said it would finalize research in so-called “fourth generation” reactors in the ASTRID (Advanced Sodium Technological Reactor for Industrial Demonstration) project this year and is no longer planning to build a prototype in the short or medium term.

“In the current energy market situation, the perspective of industrial development of fourth-generation reactors is not planned before the second half of this century,” the CEA said.

In November last year the CEA had already said it was considering reducing ASTRID’s capacity to a 100-200 megawatt (MW) research model from the commercial-size 600 MW originally planned.

Le Monde quoted a CEA source as saying that the project is dead and that the agency is spending no more time or money on it.

Sodium-cooled fast-breeder reactors are one of several new designs that could succeed the pressurized water reactors (PWR) that drive most of the world’s nuclear plants. []

In theory, breeders could turn nuclear waste into fuel and make France self-sufficient in energy for decades, but uranium prices have been on a downward slope for a decade, undermining the economic rationale for fast-breeder technology.

There are also serious safety concerns about using sodium instead of water as a reactor coolant.

Since sodium remains liquid at high temperatures – instead of turning into steam – sodium reactors do not need the heavy pressurized hulls of PWRs. But sodium burns on contact with air and explodes when plunged into water.

An earlier French model was scrapped in the 1980s after encountering major technical problems.

The ASTRID project was granted a 652 million euro ($723 million) budget in 2010. By the end of 2017 investment in the project had reached 738 million euros, according to public auditor data quoted by Le Monde.

The CEA said a revised program would be proposed by the end of the year for research into fourth-generation reactors beyond 2020, in line with the government’s long-term energy strategy.

Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Leigh Thomas and David Goodman                    at top

August 31, 2019 Posted by | France, reprocessing | Leave a comment

The Flamanville EPR nuclear reactor – a nightmare site for EDF.

Le Monde 30th Aug 2019 The Flamanville EPR, a nightmare site for EDF.

The third-generation Normanreactor, scheduled to be launched in 2012, will not start until the end of 2022 due to faulty welds on the site. Launched in 2007, the third generation EPR reactor was initially to be connected to the electricity grid in 2012, and cost around 3.5 billion euros. In practice, it will not
start before the end of 2022, at the earliest, and the bill will rise to
more than 11 billion euros. An amount likely to be further revised upwards
depending on the work that remains to be done.

August 31, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, France | 1 Comment

France’s sodium-cooled fast Nuclear reactor turns out to be a dud. Cancelled

News1 29th Aug 2019 The Astrid Fast Reactor Project is shut down by the Atomic EnergyCommission. A blow to the future of the sector. This was to be the nextstep in the development of the French nuclear industry, one that wouldallow it to project into the future, but which is likely never to see the
light of day. According to our information, the Astrid Fast Neutron Reactor
(RNR) project is being abandoned by the Atomic Energy and Alternative
Energies Commission (CEA), which is nevertheless at the origin.

Le Monde 29th Aug 2019 Astrid, the acronym for Advanced Sodium Technological Reactor for Industrial Demonstration, is a sodium-cooled fast reactor prototype project to be built at the Marcoule nuclear site in the Gard.

The objective of this new generation is to use depleted uranium and plutonium as fuel, in other words to reuse the radioactive materials from the electricity generation of the current nuclear fleet and largely stored at the La Hague site. (Channel), operated by Orano (formerly Areva).

August 31, 2019 Posted by | France, reprocessing | Leave a comment

“Chernobyl on the Seine” – Marie curie’s radioactive legacy

France Is Still Cleaning Up Marie Curie’s Nuclear Waste, Her lab outside Paris, dubbed Chernobyl on the Seine, is still radioactive nearly a century after her death. Bloomberg Business Week , By Tara Patel,  28 Aug 19,


August 29, 2019 Posted by | France, Reference, wastes | Leave a comment

Iran working productively with France, to save nuclear deal

August 24, 2019 Posted by | France, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment