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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

France names ex Green candidate as energy minister

http://reneweconomy.com.au/france-names-ex-greens-candidate-and-solar-advocate-as-energy-minister-16021/By Emiliano Bellini on 19 May 2017 PV Magazine Newly appointed energy minister Nicolas Hulot is a well-known journalist and environmentalist which has had a leading role in the French Green Party (Europe Écologie-Les Verts) in the past, and has always supported solar through his foundation.

Nicolas Hulot has been named new France’s new energy and environment minister in the cabinet led by the new prime minister Edouard Philippe. Hulot’s ministry, which under the previous government was named Ministry of Energy, Ecology and Sustainable Development (MEEM), has been renamed into Ministry of the Ecological and Solidarity-based Transition.

Hulot, who was a candidate in the primary of the Green Party (Europe Écologie-Les Verts) to the 2012 French presidential election, is a well-known journalist and environmentalist who became popular thanks to his documentary tv show “Ushuaïa Nature, whose slogan is “wonder is the first step towards respect.”

He is also the president of the Fondation Nicolas-Hulot, an environmental organization created by him in 1990.

The new minister has always been a supporter of solar energy in the French political debate.

In 2011, after the French government introduced a moratorium on solar projects which paralyzed the sector for several years, Hulot’s foundation released a study containing a series of proposals on how to further develop PV, and on how to involve all of the country’s interested parties, including government, media, enterprises and associations, in the transition to a clean energy economy.

In a more recent study published in 2015, Hulot’s foundation said that solar must be deployed “at human scale” everywhere in the world, and that it must be adopted especially in countries with low access to electricity. As for PV in France, the foundation said that the country has the potential to install a further 20 GW and 25 GW in addition to the 5.8 GW installed at the time.

This, the reports stressed, can occur without putting pressure on the national grid. If achieved, the target proposed by Hulot’s foundation would enable the country to raise the share of solar in the country power mix from 1% to 8%.

As for the outgoing energy minister, Ségolène Royal, it must be acknowledged that she performed an extraordinary job for the solar sector.

Immediately after her appointment, she started several initiatives aimed at restoring investor confidence, a clear and stable regulatory framework, and a reasonable level of incentives. Under her mandate, solar saw its target by 2023 being tripled to 20.2 GW. Royal’s energy strategy also decided that nuclears share of the French energy mix should fall to 50% by 2025.

Note: Reuters reports that news of the appointment sent the share price of nuclear utility EDF down as much as seven per cent, as the appointment raised doubts in investors’ minds about the strength of Macron’s commitment to a pro-nuclear energy policy.

“There is a fear of a stricter ecological line given Hulot’s history as an environmental campaigner,” said Andrea Tueni, markets analyst with Saxo Bank. Hulot, who scores high in popularity polls, said he hoped the job would allow him to bring about change.

In an interview with Liberation newspaper last month, Hulot said one of France’s main challenges will be to reposition EDF on a path that is compatible with a transition from dependence on nuclear power towards the use of more renewables.

“As renewable energy becomes more and more competitive, the nuclear industry business model belongs to the past,” he said.

May 20, 2017 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

European Commission scheduled to decide on EDF to gain controlling stake in AREVA nuclear corporation

EDF set to win EU approval for Areva nuclear reactor deal – source , Reuters, By Foo Yun Chee | BRUSSELS, 19 May 17,   French utility EDF (EDF.PA) is set to gain unconditional approval from the EU competition authorities for its plan to acquire a controlling stake in ailing nuclear power engineering group Areva’s (AREVA.PA) reactor business, a person familiar with the matter said on Friday.

State-controlled EDF wants to acquire 51 to 75 percent of Areva NP, which designs, manufactures and services nuclear reactors and is worth about 2.5 billion euros ($2.8 billion).

The deal is crucial for France, which has Europe’s largest network of nuclear plants, and uses EDF and Areva to spearhead its export efforts against competition from Russia’s Rosatom and Japan’s Hitachi Ltd (6501.T).

The European Commission, which is scheduled to decide on the deal by May 29, declined to comment. EDF and Areva had no immediate comment….http://www.reuters.com/article/us-areva-m-a-edf-eu-idUSKCN18F23I

May 20, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics international | Leave a comment

France’s new Prime Minister says France needs ‘massive’ renewables growth

France needs ‘massive’ renewables growth, nuclear not only energy solution, says PM  http://www.reuters.com/article/france-energy-idUSL8N1IK1T1 May 18 France needs “massive and rapid” growth in renewable energy capacity and nuclear power is not the country’s only energy solution, new Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Thursday.

Philippe, who was appointed by newly inaugurated President Emmanuel Macron, used to work as head of public affairs for state nuclear energy group Areva, parts of which are set to be absorbed by EDF, the state power utility which operates the nation’s ageing nuclear power station fleet.

On Wednesday, Macron appointed environmentalist Nicolas Hulot as his environment minister with responsibility for energy matters – a move that hit EDF’s share price.

Nuclear power accounts for about three-quarters of French power generation at present.

France needs “to reach the objectives set out by the President,” Philippe said on France Inter radio. “That means an approach founded on the secure base of nuclear and a rapid, massive and visible development of renewables,” he added.

Philippe also said the government would take a “pragmatic” approach regarding France’s future energy and power supplies. (Reporting by Andrew Callus and Jean-Baptiste Vey; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

May 19, 2017 Posted by | France, renewable | Leave a comment

Greenpeace’s lawsuit against French state aid for Hinkley Nuclear plant – upsetting for UK and French govts

Times 18th May 2017, Britain’s new £18 billion nuclear power plant is being funded by illegal French state aid, according to a lawsuit filed by Greenpeace. The environmental group is urging the European Commission to order EDF, the French state-owned energy giant that is building the plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset, to repay the 6.8 billion euros it received from the French
government.

The lawsuit is also a shot across the bows of Theresa May, who approved plans for Hinkley Point C last autumn, and President Macron of France, who organised the bailout of EDF when he was economy minister. At the time, EDF was struggling with debts of more than 37 billion and a requirement to find more than 50 billion to renovate its French reactors.

Critics, including the group’s own financial director, said that it could not afford its two-thirds share of the investment in Hinkley Point.

Greenpeace claims that the deal amounts to unfair state aid. “Instead of acting like a smart investor, the state is providing unconditional support to EDF and its nuclear projects that threaten the health of the company, notably Hinkley Point.

“There is no economic logic,”Laura Monnier, of Greenpeace France, said. “Greenpeace’s lawsuit aims to show that EDF’scapital increase is incompatible with European competition law.” The environmental organisation said that EDF had been wrong to invest in Hinkley Point “when it does not have the funds to invest in the maintenance and safety of its French nuclear fleet”.

Greenpeace’s lawsuit is unlikely to halt the Hinkley Point project, but it adds to the controversy over the scheme on both sides of the Channel.Shares in EDF slumped yesterday after the appointment of Nicolas Hulot, 62, France’s best known environmental campaigner, as minister of ecology and solidarity in Mr Macron’s government. Investors fear that Mr Hulot will press EDF to reduce its dependence on nuclear power and to pump funds into the development of renewable energy.
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/business/hinkley-point-is-being-paid-for-by-illegal-french-aid-btqjg67r3

May 19, 2017 Posted by | France, Legal | Leave a comment

France’s nuclear shares plunge as environmentalist Nicolas Hulot appointed as Environment and Energy Minister

Reuters 17th May 2017 Green activist Nicolas Hulot was appointed as the minister responsible for environment and energy in the new French government on Wednesday, sending the share price of nuclear utility EDF down as much as seven percent.

EDF shares had rallied strongly since the election of centrist Emmanuel Macron as president on May 7 as investors expected a pro-nuclear energy policy from the new government. But the appointment of Hulot – France’s best-known
environmental campaigner and a former television documentary maker – as ecology minister raised doubts in investors’ minds about the strength of that commitment.

Hulot is not known specifically as an anti-nuclear campaigner but has been critical of nuclear energy and of EDF’s strong
focus on nuclear, which accounts for 75 percent of France’s electricity generation. The world’s biggest operator of nuclear plants, EDF has a 18 billion pound ($23.3 billion) project to build two nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point, Britain and needs to spend 50 billion euro ($55.7 billion) on upgrading its ageing French nuclear plants.  The planned takeover of Areva’s nuclear reactor unit will also cost several billions.

In an interview with Liberation newspaper last month, Hulot said one of France’s main challenges will be to reposition EDF on a path that is compatible with a transition from dependence on nuclear power towards the use of more
renewables.

“While elsewhere the energy transition accelerates, EDF gets closer to Areva, overinvests in costly nuclear projects like Hinkley Point, and does not invest enough in renewables,” he told the paper. Asked by Le Parisien newspaper in March whether France should stop using nuclear energy, he said: “That is a medium-term target”. “As renewable energy
becomes more and more competitive, the nuclear industry business model belongs to the past,” he said.
http://uk.reuters.com/article/france-election-government-energy-idUKL8N1IJ43S

May 19, 2017 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

Greenpeace taking case to European Commission against French government’s increased funding to EDF

Reuters 17th May 2017 Greenpeace is filing a complaint with the European Commission arguing that the French government’s recapitalization of state-controlled EDF amounts to illegal state aid for the utility’s plan to build nuclear plants in HinkleyPoint, Britain.

Greenpeace said the 3 billion euro ($3.33 billion) capital injection for EDF in March, plus 3.8 billion euros of foregone dividends since 2015 – the state leaves money in EDF by taking a share dividend instead of a cash dividend – are incompatible with European Union competition law.

“Instead of acting like a smart investor, the state is providing unconditional support to EDF and its nuclear projects that
threaten the health of the company, notably Hinkley Point. There is no economic logic,” said Greenpeace France legal campaigner Laura Monnier.   http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-edf-britain-subsidies-idUKKCN18D0MV

May 19, 2017 Posted by | France, Legal | Leave a comment

Nuclear companies EDF and AREVA create a new nuclear company EDVANCE

Global News Wire 17th May 2017 EDF Group’s Board of Directors has approved the creation of the company EDVANCE which brings together EDF and AREVA NP engineers. This is a significant milestone in the reconstruction of the nuclear industry, announced in June 2015.
EDVANCE will be in charge of the basic design and implementation (studies, procurement support, assembly and commissioning) for projects involving nuclear islands and control systems for new reactors being built, both in France and around the world.
EDF will own 80% of the company’s capital, while AREVA NP will own 20%. This new company is set up independently from EDF’s acquisition of the exclusive control over NEW AREVA NP, planned for the end of 2017. http://globenewswire.com/news-release/2017/05/17/987156/0/en/EDF-EDF-Board-of-Directors-approves-the-creation-of-EDVANCE-a-significant-milestone-in-the-reconstruction-of-the-French-nuclear-industry.html

May 19, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, France | Leave a comment

France Gets EU Approval For 3 Schemes To Develop 17 Gigawatts Of Renewable Energy.

Clean Tech 12th May 2017 The European Commission has approved France’s request to develop three separate schemes that are intended to support the development of more
than 17 gigawatts worth of new renewable energy capacity. The European Commission, the legislative body of the European Union, on May 5 approved three separate schemes for the development of small-scale onshore wind, solar, and sewage gas installations in France, which would allow France to develop more than 17 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity.

The onshore wind scheme will have a provisional budget of €1 billion per year, and will grant support for 15 GW of new capacity over the next 10 years. The projects are intended to be small projects, taking the form of what is called a premium on top of the market price, or in French, complement de remunération, providing support to operators of small-scale onshore installations of less than 6 wind turbines that themselves are no more than 3 megawatts (MW) in capacity….
https://cleantechnica.com/2017/05/12/france-can-move-forward-three-schemes-develop-17-gw-renewable-energy/

May 17, 2017 Posted by | decentralised, France | Leave a comment

France’s Emmanuel Macron to lead the nation to renewable energy, and away from nuclear

New Energy Update, French President-elect set to boost sluggish solar growth Emmanuel Macron’s victory in France’s presidential election on May 7 is set to usher in a new wave of renewable energy development, according to his campaign pledges.

Macron pledged to double solar and wind capacity and close all of France’s coal-fired power stations by the end of his five-year term in 2022. He has also pledged to retain laws introduced in 2015 which aim to cut the share of nuclear power from 75% to 50% by 2025. This could equate to the closure of 25 GW of nuclear power capacity and shutdown dates will depend on growth in solar and wind capacity.

French solar capacity currently stands at 7 GW while wind capacity is around 12 GW. Solar and wind development has been hampered by regulatory and administrative hurdles and Macron plans to simplify the authorization process.

The closure of 25 GW of nuclear power capacity would require around 75 GW of new renewable energy capacity, Jefferies analysts Ahmed Farman and Oliver Salvesen said in a research note April 24.

“That looks quite challenging given that in the last 10 years only 18 GW of wind and solar was installed in France,” the analysts said in their note.

Market analysts have highlighted the challenge of shutting down an estimated 25 GW of nuclear power capacity over such a short timeframe while maintaining grid stability. While Macron supports the 2025 nuclear phase-out law, he has not set out a firm position on the phase-out date.

“The lack of a firm position on this issue may be because Mr Macron is well aware that the 2025 target is highly ambitious,” Farman and Salvesen said in their research note.

The 50% nuclear target may instead be reached between 2030 and 2033, a Macron adviser told Bloomberg in a report published April 26. The 50% objective could be reached sooner if ASN, the French nuclear safety authority, imposes tough conditions to extend reactor lifespans from 40 to 50 years, the adviser told Bloomberg.

Some 34 of EDF’s 58 reactors will soon reach 40 years of operations and the ASN will publish its safety report on the proposed lifespan extensions in around 2018.

Macron has said he would decide on the future of these reactors following the ASN’s report. http://analysis.newenergyupdate.com/pv-insider/google-brings-solar-rooftop-mapping-europe-french-president-elect-plans-renewables-boom?utm_campaign=NEP+PV+10MAY17+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua&elqTrackId=0da3b745bbf445b4a26a08b119c0eb1a&elq=3285a40f49eb42f0a3f4e6cb9d0a3898&elqaid=27829&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=13168

May 12, 2017 Posted by | France, renewable | Leave a comment

Macron, French Presidential candidate, would hasten nuclear decommissioning, depending on renewables development

French presidential favorite pins reactor closures to renewables growth, Nuclear Energy Insider, May 3, 2017 The election of Emmanuel Macron as French President would see nuclear decommissioning activity surge in the next decade but shutdown dates will depend on measures to accelerate wind and solar development. The French presidential elections reach a climax on May 7 when centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron faces far right candidate Marine Le Pen in the final round of voting. Macron is the favorite to win the election– polling at around 59% of the vote on May 1– and the election result will have a profound impact on the future of EDF’s French nuclear fleet.

While a surprise Le Pen victory would likely see a reversal of France’s reactor closure plans, a Macron win would usher in a surge in decommissioning activity in the coming decade. Macron has set out bullish renewable energy objectives and pledged to retain laws introduced in 2015 which aim to cut the share of nuclear power from 75% to 50% by 2025.

However, Macron has not set out a firm position on this nuclear target and market analysts have highlighted the challenge of shutting down an estimated 25 GW of nuclear power capacity over such a short timeframe while maintaining grid stability.

“The lack of a firm position on this issue may be because Mr Macron is well aware that the 2025 target is highly ambitious,” Jefferies analysts Ahmed Farman and Oliver Salvesen said in a research note April 24.

The 50% target may instead be reached between 2030 and 2033, a Macron adviser told Bloomberg in a report published April 26. The 50% objective could be reached sooner if ASN, the French nuclear safety authority, imposes tough conditions to extend reactor lifespans from 40 to 50 years, the adviser told Bloomberg.

Some 34 of EDF’s 58 reactors will soon reach 40 years of operations and the ASN will publish its safety report on the proposed lifespan extensions in around 2018.

Macron has said he would decide on the future of these plants following the ASN’s report.

Green bond

Macron’s pledge to reduce the share of nuclear power to 50% is based on a rapid expansion of wind and solar power. Macron has pledged to double wind and solar capacity and close all of France’s coal-fired power stations by the end of his five-year term in 2022.

Macron’s renewables pledge will require an acceleration in the approval process for renewable energy projects. France’s wind and solar development has been hampered by regulatory and administrative hurdles and Macron has pledged to simplify the authorization process.

Jefferies analysts Farman and Salvesen estimate the closure of 25 GW of nuclear power capacity in the coming eight years would require around 75 GW of new renewable energy capacity.

“That looks quite challenging given that in the last 10 years only 18 GW of wind and solar was installed in France,” the analysts said in their note.

A key advantage for developers going forward is the falling cost of wind and solar power. Technology improvements and improved installation practices have driven wind and solar costs towards wholesale market prices, removing the need for state subsidies in some countries.

Shutdown begins

Macron also supports the current government’s pledge to close two 900 MW reactors at Fessenheim when EDF brings online its 1.65 MW EPR at Flamanville, currently expected by the end of 2018. The EPR project is several years behind schedule but on March 15 EDF said it had begun system performance testing in line with its latest construction timetable announced in September 2015.

“The next milestone will involve fuel loading and then start-up at the end of the fourth quarter of 2018,” the company said……….. http://analysis.nuclearenergyinsider.com/french-presidential-favorite-pins-reactor-closures-renewables-growth?utm_campaign=NEI+03MAY17+Newsletter+B&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua&elqTrackId=fa70d686bf254ce4b69dc41f31b9c383&elq=acbe9ff6fdea4

May 6, 2017 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron – very different views on nuclear power

French Presidential Election: Nationalism Meets Environmentalism From International Environment Reporter Bloomberg, By Rick Mitchell, 5 May 17  “………..While the campaign commitment documents of both candidates set out environmental and energy policies, independent candidate Macron—a former Rothschild banker who was minister of economy, industry and the digital economy in outgoing President Francois Hollande’s Socialist government when the country hosted global climate talks in 2015—offers more detail than does National Front candidate Le Pen…….

Divergence on Nuclear Energy

Le Pen, by contrast, “promises to preserve the environment by breaking with an economic model based on wild trade globalization,” asserting that “real ecology” consists in producing, processing and consuming close to home.

On energy, she promises to modernize and secure the country’s aging fleet of nuclear reactors, in particular through a program proposed by flagship energy company Electricite de France (EDF) that would spend tens of billions of euros through 2025 to extend reactors’ lives beyond 40 years.

Macron said a strategic decision on extending reactors’ lives should wait for a report by the country’s Nuclear Safety Authority (l’Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire), expected in 2018.

Le Pen says she would reassert state control of EDF, which until 2004 was fully state owned, and would not allow the closing of the troubled Fessenheim nuclear power plant.

Closing Fessenheim is an unkept promise by Hollande that Macron has vowed to carry out. But Macron said he would wait until after the next-generation Flamanville European pressurized reactor (EPR) plant comes online.

Originally meant to be in operation by 2012, the Flamanville plant has suffered several construction delays and cost overruns due to safety and other problems.

Macron would continue the Hollande government’s plan, set out in the framework 2015 law on energy transition related to green growth, to reduce nuclear energy’s share of French electricity generation from the current 75 percent down to 50 percent 2025.

Renewables 

Both candidates vow to continue the country’s ban on shale gas exploration, with Le Pen saying the ban would remain until “satisfactory conditions” for the environment, safety and health are met.

Macron vows to wean France off fossil fuels, including by closing the country’s remaining coal-fired power plants within five years, and says he would carry out the energy transition law’s schedule to gradually increase the carbon tax to 100 euros ($109) per ton by 2030, from the current 30.5 euros.

Le Pen said she would reduce France’s dependence on oil by developing capacity for hydrogen energy, through state support for research and development. She would make support for home insulation a budget priority.

Both candidates profess strong support for renewable energy, with Le Pen promising “massive” development of French capacity for solar, biogas, wood and other sources, “through an intelligent protectionism, economic patriotism, public and private investment and through orders made by EDF.” However, she would “decree an immediate moratorium on wind energy.”

Land-based wind energy has for several years faced strong public resistance and big regulatory hurdles in some parts of France.

‘30 Billion Euros in Private Investment’

Macron said he would cut red tape for deployment of renewable projects, calling for a doubling of wind and solar photovoltaic capacity by 2022, and government policies to encourage 30 billion euros ($32.7 billion) in private investment, including for research and investment in energy storage and smart grids.

He proposes a special bonus to encourage people who have automobiles made before 2001 to buy “more ecological” cars, whether used or new, and he would accelerate deployment of electric cars…..

Paris Agreement

Le Pen said would she simplify urbanization standards to ease a housing shortage, while maintaining rules to protect the environment and natural habitat.

Macron would push for European trade sanctions against countries that don’t respect environmental clauses in trade agreements with the EU and said France should make a priority of getting the Paris climate agreement implemented.

“Considering the U.S. president’s expressed intentions, France should in particular push for Europe to pressure the United States to face up to its responsibilities,” Macron said.

The candidates meet for a two-hour televised debate May 3, their only one-on-one debate of the campaign.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rick Mitchell in Paris atcorrespondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Greg Henderson atghenderson@bna.com

For More Information

Emmanuel Macron’s program of campaign commitments for the environment and ecological transition is available, in French, athttp://src.bna.com/osa.

Marine Le Pen’s 144 presidential commitments are available, in French, at http://src.bna.com/osbhttps://www.bna.com/french-presidential-election-n57982087546/

May 5, 2017 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

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. http://www.politico.eu/article/the-next-french-presidents-nuclear-problem-election-france-power-energy/

April 22, 2017 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

Fusion nuclear reactors as a source of electricity? It’s something to be shunned.

These impediments—together with colossal capital outlay and several additional disadvantages shared with fission reactors—will make fusion reactors more demanding to construct and operate, or reach economic practicality, than any other type of electrical energy generator.

The harsh realities of fusion belie the claims of its proponents of “unlimited, clean, safe and cheap energy.” Terrestrial fusion energy is not the ideal energy source extolled by its boosters, but to the contrary: Its something to be shunned.

Fusion reactors: Not what they’re cracked up to be http://thebulletin.org/fusion-reactors-not-what-they%E2%80%99re-cracked-be10699  Daniel Jassby, 19 Apr 17 Daniel Jassby was a principal research physicist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab until 1999. For 25 years he worked in areas of plasma physics and neutron production related to fusion energy research and development. He holds a PhD in astrophysical sciences from Princeton University.

Fusion reactors have long been touted as the “perfect”energy source. Proponents claim that when useful commercial fusion reactors are developed, they would produce vast amounts of energy with little radioactive waste, forming little or no plutonium byproducts that could be used for nuclear weapons. These pro-fusion advocates also say that fusion reactors would be incapable of generating the dangerous runaway chain reactions that lead to a meltdown—all drawbacks to the current fission schemes in nuclear power plants.

And, a fusion-powered nuclear reactor would have the enormous benefit of producing energy without emitting any carbon to warm up our planet’s atmosphere.

But there is a hitch: While it is, relatively speaking, rather straightforward to split an atom to produce energy (which is what happens in fission), it is a “grand scientific challenge” to fuse two hydrogen nuclei together to create helium isotopes (as occurs in fusion). Our sun constantly does fusion reactions all the time, burning ordinary hydrogen at enormous densities and temperatures. But to replicate that process of fusion here on Earth—where we don’t have the intense pressure created by the gravity of the sun’s core—we would need a temperature of at least 100 million degrees Celsius, or about six times hotter than the sun. In experiments to date the energy input required to produce the temperatures and pressures that enable significant fusion reactions in hydrogen isotopes has far exceeded the fusion energy generated.

But through the use of promising fusion technologies such as magnetic confinement and laser-based inertial confinement, humanity is moving much closer to getting around that problem and achieving that breakthrough moment when the amount of energy coming out of a fusion reactor will sustainably exceed the amount going in, producing net energy. Collaborative, multinational physics project in this area include the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) joint fusion experiment in France which broke ground for its first support structures in 2010, with the first experiments on its fusion machine, or tokamak, expected to begin in 2025.

As we move closer to our goal, however, it is time to ask: Is fusion really a “perfect”energy source? After having worked on nuclear fusion experiments for 25 years at thePrinceton Plasma Physics Lab, I began to look at the fusion enterprise more dispassionately in my retirement. I concluded that a fusion reactor would be far from perfect, and in some ways close to the opposite.

Scaling down the sun.  Continue reading

April 21, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, France, Reference, technology | Leave a comment

By 2020 France’s Fessenheim nuclear power station to be closed

France’s oldest nuclear plant in Fessenheim to close by 2020 http://www.dw.com/en/frances-oldest-nuclear-plant-in-fessenheim-to-close-by-2020/a-38358239   Amid a whirlwind of controversy, the French government has ordered the closure of the nuclear power plant. But its closure is dependent on the commissioning of a state-of-the-art nuclear plant in Normandy. French Environment Minister Segolene Royal announced on Sunday that the country’s oldest nuclear power plant will close by 2020.

“The decree on the closure of the Fessenheim plant has been signed and published this morning in the official (government) journal,” Royal said in a tweet.

According to the decree, the Fessenheim plant will close once the new reactor being built at Flamanville on the Normandy coast “enters service.”

The plant has been operational since 1977 and sits near Germany’s border with France. The decree marks the partial fulfillment of French President Francois Hollande’s campaign pledge during the 2012 presidential election to close the plant during his term, which ends in May.

The government’s decision comes days after French nuclear plant operator EDF said it would only shutter the Fessenheim plant after receiving compensation for its closure alongside the successful commissioning of the Flamanville plant.

“I would like to pay tribute to the work of Fessenheim employees and services providers who operate our industrial equipment safely and with excellent performance. I assure them of the consideration I shall bring for their future in all circumstances,” said EDF chief executive Jean-Bernard Levy in a statement.

Problematic reactors The Fessenheim plant has been a source of tensions between France and its neighbors Germany and Switzerland. In 2014, one of the plant’s reactors had to be shut down after water was discovered leaking from several places.

According to documents obtained by the “Süddeutsche Zeitung,” the reactor had to be shut down by adding boron to the pressure vessel, an unprecedented procedure in Western Europe, according to experts. The incident allegedly occurred due to jammed control rods.

However, French authorities played down the incident by not divulging the gravity of the situation. An official report from France’s nuclear authority ASN did not contain information on the need to use boron, nor was the incident reported to the International Atomic Energy Agency in that manner.

Despite the incident, France continues to rely on nuclear energy, which covers 75 percent of its energy needs.

April 10, 2017 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

EDF’s nuclear decommissioning – financial problems

Another month in UK’s failing new nuclear programme nuClear News No.94 April 2017 EDF Finances A French Parliamentary report from the National Assembly’s Commission for Sustainable Development and Regional Development says the clean-up of French reactors will take longer, be more challenging and cost much more than French nuclear operator EDF anticipates. Whereas Germany has set aside €38 billion to decommission 17 nuclear reactors, and the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority estimates that clean-up of UK’s 17 nuclear sites will cost between €109‒250 billion over the next 120 years, France has set aside only €23 billion to decommissioning its 58 reactors. In other words France estimates it will cost €300 million per gigawatt (GW) of generating capacity to decommission a nuclear reactor, Germany estimates €1.4 billion per GW and the UK estimates €2.7 billion per GW.

EDF says it wants to set aside a €23 billion fund to cover decommissioning and waste storage for an estimated €54 billion final bill ‒ and the difference between these two figures will be closed through the appreciating value of its equities, bonds and investments ‒ in other words, ‘discounting’. Unfortunately, recent experience has taught us that markets can go up and down over time ‒ especially the very long-time periods involved in radioactive waste management. But for a company that has huge borrowings and an enormous debt of €37 billion, €23 billion is a large sum of money to find. Any significant change in the cost of decommissioning would have an immediate and disastrous impact on EDFs credit rating ‒ something that the debt-ridden corporation can simply not afford. EDF is already in financial trouble. Along with bailing out collapsing AREVA, EDF also has to bear the huge financial burden of the failing reactor newbuild at Flamanville. It will also have to pay for extending the life of France’s existing nuclear power stations (to 2025), at a cost of €55 billion.

On top of all this the French authority tasked with disposal of all the countries vast and increasing waste burden (Andra) has recently ramped up the estimated cost for the planned national nuclear waste repository at Cigéo, to €25 billion ‒ and EDF must pay for most of Cigéo’s construction. Although €5 billion more than EDF anticipated, it still seems a gross underestimation, and the costs are likely to rise considerably. (21) http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo94.pdf

April 8, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, decommission reactor, France, politics | Leave a comment