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French nuclear output down 20.2% in April

French nuclear output down 20.2% in April, https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/french-nuclear-output-down-202-april-2022-05-11/PARIS, May 11 (Reuters)  Reporting by Gus Trompiz, editing by Sybille de La Hamaide and Jane Merriman  – Nuclear power generation at EDF’s (EDF.PA) French reactors in April fell by 20.2% year on year to 21.7 terawatt hours (TWh), the energy company said on Wednesday.

Total nuclear generation in France since the start of the year was 113.4 TWh, down 10.3% compared with 126.4 TWh for January-April 2021, EDF said on its website, citing reduced availability of the nuclear fleet that was mainly due to the discovery of stress corrosion at some sites

In Britain, EDF said its nuclear production last month rose 11.8% compared with April 2021 to 3.8 TWh, while cumulative output since the start of 2022 was up 9.4% versus the same period last year at 15.2 TWh.

May 12, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, France | Leave a comment

The poisoned environmental legacy of France’s ”Nuclear Park”

The poisoned environmental legacy of the ‘Nuclear Park’ https://culturico.com/2022/05/07/the-poisoned-environmental-legacy-of-the-nuclear-park/ Culturico 7th May 2022, Linda Pentz Gunter, Linda Pentz Gunter is the international specialist at Beyond Nuclear and editor and contributor at Beyond Nuclear International.

France prides itself on its “Nuclear Park”, its fleet of once 58 and now 56 operational nuclear reactors that deliver 70% of the country’s electricity. However, the environmental effects of this considerable use of nuclear power – specifically from the need to mine uranium and the choice to reprocess irradiated nuclear fuel – have negatively impacted the health of the French people.

France is heavily reliant on nuclear energy. Its 56 commercial reactors dot almost every corner of the country, providing 70% of all electricity consumed. France also possesses a nuclear weapons arsenal, fueled by the nuclear power program that predated it.

The possession of nuclear weapons affords France permanent membership status in the UN Security Council — a sense of prestige France is intent on maintaining.

French president, Emmanuel Macron, has now announced that the country will build new nuclear power plants, despite the fact that its current flagship Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR), is beset by technical mistakes, years behind schedule and billions of Euros over budget at construction sites in France, Finland and the UK. The first of two operational EPRs in China had to be shut down late last year due to vibrations that caused radioactive leakage.

Consequently, it is unpopular to question the use of nuclear power in France and oppositional voices are rarely heard. The French anti-nuclear movement — largely networked under the Réseau Sortir du nucléaire — is snubbed by the press, and its members have been arrested and even convicted of alleged crimes.
However, thanks to the pioneering work of activists, investigative journalists and independent scientists, some of the secrets buried beneath the ’Nuclear Park’, have started to be unearthed.

The damage from uranium mining

Nuclear power plants are fueled with uranium, a radioactive ore that is mined from the earth, typically in dry, desert areas far way, often by an Indigenous workforce offered little to no protection and none of the alleged benefits.
However, between 1948 and 2001, France operated its own uranium mines  — more than 250 of them in 27 departments across the country. Those French mine workers, like their Native American, Australian Aboriginal and African Touareg counterparts, labored unprotected and in ignorance of the true health risks.

The mines and the factories that milled and processed the uranium, now lie abandoned, leaving a legacy of radioactive waste that is hidden beneath flowering meadows, forest paths and ornamental lakes. But these radioactive residues and rocks — known as tailings — have also dispersed beyond the old mine boundaries, transported into rivers and streams, absorbed into wild plants, scattered on roadsides, and even paved into children’s playgrounds, homes and parking lots.

There are radioactive hotspots everywhere. France may not yet have opened a high-level radioactive waste repository — still under dispute at Bure — but thanks to the contamination left behind by uranium mining, large swaths of the country are de facto nuclear waste dumps. The widespread dispersal of radioactive contamination across France has been studied extensively by the independent French radiological laboratory, Commission de Recherche et d’Information Indépendantes sur la RADioactivité, known simply as CRIIRAD. Its scientists have traveled all over the world, measuring radiation levels at such notorious nuclear accident sites as Mayak and Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union, and at Fukushima in Japan. But often, they are just as shocked and outraged at the radiation levels they measure at home, and the failure of those responsible to take effective remediation steps to protect the public.

In the 2009 investigative French television program by Pieces de Conviction — entitled Uranium, the scandal of contaminated France — CRIIRAD’s scientific director, physicist Bruno Chareyron, is seen scraping the gravely surface off a parking lot at a cross-country ski club. Under the dusty gray stones we suddenly see a gleam of yellow. It is the telltale sign of uranium and Chareyron’s Geiger counter is recording radiation levels at more than 23mSv an hour. The internationally accepted “safe” dose for the public is 1mSv a year. The public should not have access to this, he says, especially not children who are prone to pick up and pocket pebbles.

In all, there are an estimated 200-300 million tonnes of radioactive tailings dumped across France, exposing those who live, work or play nearby. The contamination comes not only from the uranium, but from its often far more radioactive decay products.  And while the state-owned nuclear company Orano (formerly Areva and, before that, Cogema) insists that these sites have been “returned to nature”, it is a purely cosmetic exercise that has granted impunity to the polluter but endangered countless lives.

CRIIRAD subsequently released an urgent appeal to elected officials to take action. The laboratory recorded similar findings at numerous other abandoned uranium mine sites.

Now, with all the French uranium mines closed, the fuel for the Parc Nucléaire must be imported. It comes mainly from Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world, and predominantly from the giant French-owned uranium mine near the town of Arlit. There, CRIIRAD found that mine workers and inhabitants are routinely exposed to radioactivity in the environment as a result of uranium mining activities. A Greenpeace investigation concluded that French uranium mining activities in Niger had left behind a legacy of environmental contamination in that country, as it has in France, that would harm people for “centuries.”
The lethal legacy of uranium mining and processing that has contaminated so much of France is only the beginning of the story, however, just as uranium mining is only the beginning of the nuclear fuel chain.

Operating reactors and childhood leukemia

The electricity generation phase, on which the nuclear lobby bases its low-carbon argument to justify its continued use — while ignoring the front and back ends of the fuel chain, which have significant carbon footprints, (1) — is not without its damage to the environment either. Nuclear reactors release radiation into the environment as part of routine operation. At least 60 epidemiological studies have examined the possible health impacts of these releases, most of which found an increase in rates of leukemia among children living near operating nuclear power plants, compared to those living further away.

The most famous of these studies, conducted in Germany — Case-control study on childhood cancer in the vicinity of nuclear power plants in Germany 1980-2003 (2) — found a 60% increase in all cancers and a 120% increase in leukemias among children living within 5 km of all German nuclear power stations. This study was followed by others, largely supporting the data. But critics speculated that the amount of radioactivity in the releases was too low to have caused these epidemics.

For example, a 2008 study (3) by Laurier et al., of childhood leukemia around French reactors, concluded there was no “excess risk of leukaemia in young children living near French nuclear power plants”. However, the Laurier study was among those rebutted (4) and incorporated into a meta-analysis by Dr. Ian Fairlie and Dr. Alfred Körblein, which concluded that there were statistically significant increases in childhood leukemias near all the nuclear power plants studied and that “the matter is now beyond question, i.e., there’s a very clear association between increased child leukemias and proximity to nuclear power plants.”

The practice of averaging a month’s worth of releases into daily dose amounts ignores a sudden spike in radioactive releases, as happens when a reactor is refueling. Fairlie hypothesizes (5) that these spikes, delivering substantial radiation doses, could result in babies being born pre-leukemic due to exposure in utero, with the potential to progress to full leukemia additionally aggravated by subsequent post-natal exposure. (Nuclear power plants typically refuel every 18 months.)

Radioactive waste — the unsolved problem

At the end of nuclear power operations lies the huge and unsolved radioactive waste problem. Inevitably, the French reliance on nuclear power has generated an enormous amount of radioactive waste that must be managed and, ideally, isolated from the environment.

France is one of the few countries in the world to have chosen reprocessing as a way to try to manage irradiated reactor fuel. Reprocessing involves a chemical separation of plutonium from the uranium products in reactor fuel rods once they have ceased being used in the reactor. This operation is conducted at the giant La Hague reprocessing facility, on the Cherbourg peninsula, which began operation in 1976.

Reprocessing releases larger volumes of radioactivity — typically by a factor of several thousand— than nuclear power plants. Liquid radioactive discharges from La Hague are released through pipes into the English Channel (La Manche), while radioactive gases are emitted from chimney stacks. The liquid discharges from La Hague have been measured at 17 million times more radioactive than normal sea water. La Hague “legally discharges 33 million liters of radioactive liquid into the sea each year,” Yannick Rousselet of Greenpeace France told Deutsche Welle in a 2020 article. This has contributed, among other issues, to elevated concentrations of carcinogenic carbon-14 in sea life (6).

Concentrations of krypton-85 released at La Hague have been recorded at 90,000 times higher than natural background. La Hague is the largest single emitter of krypton-85 anywhere in the world. (7)

A November 1995 study — Incidence of leukemia in young people around La Hague nuclear waste reprocessing plant: a sensitivity analysis (8) —  found elevated rates of leukemia. Yet its lead author, Jean-François Viel, was subsequently viciously attacked in attempts to discredit his findings and reputation, attacks that worsened after the publication of a second paper (9) in January 1997.

The cumulative negative health and environmental impacts of the French nuclear sector render the so-called benefits of the resulting low electricity rates a bitter delusion. For while France tries, wrongly, to attribute Germany’s higher electricity rates to that country’s rejection of nuclear power, typical German households use less electricity and actually pay lower monthly electric bills than French ones. Meanwhile, the French rely exclusively on electricity for heat in winter. Unable to meet this demand, France imports coal-fired electricity from Germany, perpetuating an industry that is fatal for the climate. At the same time, renewable energy development in France has been stifled by the decades-long prioritization of nuclear power.

However, a culture of denial in the French nuclear sector is nothing new. In 1986, when the Chernobyl nuclear reactor exploded and melted down in the Ukraine, the French government assured its people that the radioactive plume would not reach France. Unlike in other European countries, the French continued to eat local produce and allowed their children to play outside. This lie of immunity, quickly exposed, was attributed to “fear of jeopardizing the country’s nuclear program and of hurting sales of its agricultural products.”

It was that deception in 1986 that led to the creation of the CRIIRAD laboratory in the first place, as its scientists began to map the hotspots in France where fallout from Chernobyl had deposited high levels of radioactivity.
The insistence on expanding rather than phasing out nuclear power has also cost France progress in its carbon reduction goals. As Euractiv reported in August 2021, “France lagging behind in renewables can be explained in part by the fact that close to 70% of its electricity production is based on nuclear power.”

Many French reactors have been operating since the 1970s and are now well past their expected lifespans. With aging comes degradation of key safety parts and heightened risk of accident. In late December 2021 and in early January 2022, France saw a series of unanticipated reactor shutdowns due to safety issues, causing power shortages during a winter freeze and plunging French nuclear output to its lowest in 30 years. By early May, half of its entire reactor fleet was shut down due to technical problems or scheduled maintenance outages. The health and wellbeing of the French population would be better served both by cleanup of — and reparation for — the existing radioactive contamination so widespread in the country, and by a serious shift away from the continued use of nuclear power and toward true climate solutions such as renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.

May 9, 2022 Posted by | environment, France | 2 Comments

Is France really the poster boy for nuclear power? Nearly half of its reactors are shut down for maintenance and safety reasons

Nearly half of France’s nuclear reactors taken offline, adding to
electricity demand on European grid. France’s problems have raised
questions about the UK’s big bets on nuclear, which the government calls a
“necessity, not a luxury”.

Currently 27 of France’s 56 reactors have been
shut down due to routine maintenance or defects, forcing EDF to buy
electricity from the European grid instead, at a time of soaring demand
amid the gas crisis. France’s problems have raised questions from critics
about the reliability of nuclear, and about Britain’s recent big bets on
the energy source.

 Sky News 29th April 2022

https://news.sky.com/story/nearly-half-of-frances-nuclear-reactors-taken-offline-adding-to-electricity-demand-on-european-grid-12600662

April 30, 2022 Posted by | ENERGY, France | Leave a comment

Emmanuel Macron won French election on a wide margin, running on a pro nuclear policy

Incumbent French president Emmanuel Macron, who ran on a ticket to boost
nuclear and renewable energy, was re-elected on Sunday by a wider margin
than expected. Macron, from centre-right party La Republique en Marche, won
the election with 58.55% of the vote against 41.45% for Marine Le Pen,
representing Rassemblement National, though she nevertheless secured the
far-right’s highest ever share of the vote.

The president planned to build six European pressurised reactors (EPRs) by 2050, with an option foreight more pending further assessment, he stated in his election manifesto.
The construction of the first reactor would start in 2028 and come into
service in 2035, though the plan was deemed “unrealistic” by some
experts. Macron also scrapped a plan to close 12 reactors by 2035 in a
U-turn to his 2017 campaign pledge to cut reliance on nuclear energy to
50%, down from 70% currently. 

Montel 25th April 2022 https://www.montelnews.com/news/1315204/macron-wins-election-vows-to-boost-nuclear-renewables

April 26, 2022 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

French election: Macron and Le Pen’s nuclear plans torn apart: ‘Waste of time AND money’

FRENCH presidential hopefuls Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen have unveiled ambitious plans to boost France’s nuclear power capacity – already at 70 percent of its domestic electricity generation – but experts have questioned the feasibility.

By IAN RANDALL, , Apr 24, 2022  

The recent emphasis on large-scale nuclear reactors is, at least superficially, seemingly at odds with President Macron’s announcement late last year that France would be investing in so-called small modular reactor designs as part of his “France 2020” roadmap.

………………   Of the strategy’s allocated €30billion (£25.2billion) budget, €8billion (£6.7 billion) is to be apportioned towards the development of hydrogen power, compared with just €1billion (£0.8billion) towards small-scale reactor concepts.

Despite this funding disparity, however, Mr Macron asserted that the realisation of the small modular reactors was in fact “goal number one”…………………………….   https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/1600032/french-election-energy-macron-le-pen-grand-nuclear-plans

April 25, 2022 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

Investigations continue into possible stress corrosion in several of EDF’s nuclear reactors in France.

EDF has said it found indications of possible stress corrosion on the
auxiliary circuits of four French nuclear power reactors totalling 4.8 GW
in capacity, namely Chinon 3, Cattenom 3, Flamanville 2 and Golfech 1. The
signs of possible corrosion were detected during ultrasonic inspections of
parts of the piping at its Chinon 3 (905 MW), Cattenom 3 and Flamanville 2
(1.3 GW each) reactors, the French state-owned utility said in a statement
at the end of last week.

The units are among six reactors that EDF
considers as “priority” for these checks, with the other three being
Flamanville 1 (1.3 GW) and Bugey units 3 and 4 (880 MW each). Meanwhile,
inspections carried out on the safety injection system circuit at Golfech 1
(1.3 GW) during planned maintenance also detected indications of possible
corrosion, EDF added. A spokeswoman told Montel on Tuesday that the utility
was carrying out further investigations to find out whether it was
corrosion or not.

 Montel 19th April 2022

https://www.montelnews.com/news/1313964/edf-finds-indications-of-possible-corrosion-on-4-reactors-

April 21, 2022 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

France’s nuclear energy output falling, as signs of corrosion halt several nuclear reactors

Electricite de France SA has found corrosion on key piping on four nuclear
reactors during recent checks, taking the number of affected units at its
French fleet of atomic generators to nine.

Corrosion issues have forced the French energy giant to halt some of its 56 reactors for lengthy checks and repairs, just as Europe faces its worst energy crisis in half a century.
The state-controlled utility previously said its nuclear output will fall
to the lowest in more than three decades this year and hardly rebound next
year due to the reactor works.

Signs of corrosion were found in pipings of
the Chinon-3, Cattenom-3 and Flamanville-2 reactors, three of the six units
that EDF had decided to check in February, EDF said in a statement posted
on its website last week. Indications of corrosion have also been found at
the Golfech-1 unit during a planned maintenance halt, and deeper checks
will be carried out, the utility said.

 Bloomberg 19th April 2022

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/edf-finds-signs-of-corrosion-on-four-more-reactors-during-checks-1.1753951

April 21, 2022 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

French presidential election – Macron and LePen have differing pro-nuclear policies – but in both cases, very costly.

French presidential election: Future of nuclear power and EDF down to voters, Euractiv By Nelly Moussu | EURACTIV.fr | translated by Anne-Sophie Gayet, 13 Apr 2022

Both Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, the candidates that qualified for the second round of the French presidential election, support the revival of nuclear energy. However, they differ in their ambitions, strategies and modus operandi. EURACTIV France reports.

EDF, the French multinational electric utility company, is looking to diversify its energy sources – in particular, focusing its core business on nuclear power. This progress has so far been hampered, however, by a number of difficulties that have challenged the energy giant’s finances: the shutdown of reactors for maintenance and the obligation to lower its prices, as mandated by the state.

With Macron and Le Pen’s pro-nuclear energy programmes, the company is likely to face increased financial pressure, presented with high investment costs for maintenance and the building of reactors.

Two pro-nuclear politicians

Presenting his electoral programme in Belfort on February 10, Macron outlined his plan to build six new nuclear reactors of the EPR 2 type, examine eight other projects, and extend existing plants. “I am asking EDF to study the conditions of extension beyond 50 years, in conjunction with the nuclear safety authority”, Macron said.

An “inter-ministerial programme directorate dedicated to new nuclear power” would be set up to “ensure the management, coordinate administrative procedures, and ensure that the costs and deadlines of the projects are respected”, he continued.

Macron also announced a new regulation for nuclear electricity, replacing the Regulated Access to Historic Nuclear Electricity (Accès Régulé à l’Electricité Nucléaire Historique, ARENH). This system, which allows all energy suppliers to purchase electricity from EDF under conditions set by the State, will expire in 2025.

……….   Le Pen has broad nuclear ambitions too. In her plan, named ‘Marie Curie’, the candidate announced that she wanted to extend the life of existing power plants to 60 years, reopen the Fessenheim plant (which was closed in 2020), build five pairs of EPRs by 2031 and five pairs of EPR 2s by 2036.

However, these forecasts are not necessarily credible, said Nicolas Goldberg, an energy expert at Terra Nova.   In a note published by the Terra Nova think tank on Monday (April 11), he emphasised that Le Pen’s announcements “are contradictory to what the nuclear industry advocates: according to independent audits carried out on behalf of the State, deciding today on a nuclear revival would mean that at best a first pair of EPRs could be available between 2035 and 2037 […]. It should also be remembered that the industry itself has expressed some doubts about its ability to build more than 14 EPRs by 2050.”

Towards a nationalisation of EDF?

To implement their nuclear projects, Macron and Le Pen would rely on EDF, 84% of which is currently owned by the state.

………………..“The state will take its responsibilities to secure EDF’s financial situation and its financing capacity in the short and medium-term, as much as to allow it to pursue its strategy of profitable development within the framework of the energy transition”, Macron announced in February during his speech in Belfort.

Some have interpreted this statement as an open door to nationalisation. “Emmanuel Macron knows very well that in order to have a cheap nuclear power, public funding is required”, Goldberg said. By nationalising, EDF’s borrowing rates would not be the same; nor would the sharing of risks……………..

“For Emmanuel Macron, I feel that it is complicated,” Goldberg said. “There is, at the same time, the will to keep an integrated group, to give public financing for nuclear power, and to remain in the European markets”. Nationalisation is uncertain on Macron’s side, and it could be only partial.

Nationalisation is less of an uncertainty for Le Pen, Goldberg said. “It’s a nationalisation no matter what it costs,” the expert says. However, the candidate has not given any details on this issue in her programme. Contacted by EURACTIV on this for more details, her campaign team did not respond……..   https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/french-presidential-election-future-of-nuclear-power-and-edf-down-to-voters/

April 14, 2022 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

France working out how to save debt-laden nuclear company EDF

 France is considering restructuring plans for debt-laden power firm EDF
(EDF.PA) that include full nationalisation followed by the sale of its
renewables business to focus on nuclear energy, BFM Business reported,
citing unidentified sources.

The website said the government was working
with investment bank Goldman Sachs on several restructuring scenarios. The
sale of the renewables business could fetch 15 billion euros ($16 billion),
it cited unidentified bankers as saying, adding that could help finance the
building of six next-generation EPR nuclear reactors.

 Reuters 13th April 2022

https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/frances-edf-could-sell-renewables-focus-nuclear-bfm-2022-04-13/

April 14, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics | Leave a comment

Emmanuel Macron Gets Nuclear Energy All Wrong

The price of nuclear generation today is inordinate: a rip-off in terms of value, to put it bluntly. Indeed, while safety concerns drive up the cost of nuclear plant insurance, the price of renewables is predicted to sink further, by as much as 50 percent or more by 2030. ……No nuclear reactors anywhere are built without enormous government support, and France will be no different: The bill for the French taxpayers will start at $57 billion, according to the New York Times.

The single greatest barrier to the so-called nuclear renaissance is nuclear power itself and its inability to deliver affordable power on time and on budget.

Nuclear power won’t help France meet its climate goals on budget or on time.

 https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/03/22/macron-france-nuclear-energy-climate-renewables/ By Paul Hockenos, a Berlin-based journalist. 22  Mar 22,  At year’s end, Germany will shutter its last three nuclear plants; Belgium will follow suit by 2025. France, on the other hand, is committed to remaining Europe’s last stronghold of nuclear energy. At the center of French President Emmanuel Macron’s re-election platform is his plan to construct as many as 14 new-generation reactors and a fleet of smaller nuclear plants, supposedly to bolster the country’s climate protection strategy.

France’s bet on nuclear energy, however, is an egregious miscalculation that will severely inhibit its decarbonization efforts. At a critical juncture in the battle against climate change, diverting any finances and losing time with nuclear power, which has been in decline worldwide for decades, will only set back the country’s climate efforts, perhaps dooming its chances to go carbon neutral by 2050. Indeed, this Hail Mary pass, taken out of desperation as France has fallen woefully behind on its climate targets, will most probably come to naught anyway as the era of nuclear power wanes further no matter France’s declarations. 

The simple explanation: Fully fledged renewables are faster, cheaper, and lower risk than nuclear power.

Despite the flurry of media hype around new nuclear energy and loose talk of a “nuclear renaissance,” in recent years, the arguments against nuclear power have grown demonstrably stronger.

Critics’ original concern with nuclear power, namely its safety, remains levelheaded and paramount. The two most catastrophic meltdowns—namely in 1986 at Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant and in 2011 at Japan’s Fukushima site—are well known and had horrific repercussions that haunt those regions today. But these mega disasters are only the blockbusters. 

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, there have been 33 serious incidents at nuclear power stations worldwide since 1952—two in France, and six of them in the United States. Currently, a fifth of France’s geriatric nuclear generation is shut down because of safety issues—the older reactors get, the higher the risk of an accident—exacerbating an acute energy crunch there. So much for the 24/7 reliability of nuclear power.

And then there’s the now 80-year-old conundrum of how and where to dispose of radioactive waste. To date, no secure repositories are in operation anywhere in the world for the spent fuel, which remains toxic for hundreds of thousands of years. Experts estimate that more than 250,000 metric tons of radioactive waste—over 14,000 metric tons in France and 90,000 metric tons in the United States—is currently in temporary storage near nuclear power plants and military production facilities worldwide.

In France and elsewhere, there’s broad agreement that for security and health reasons, highly radioactive material can’t simply be lodged interminably at interim sites. But France’s wish to one day entomb its toxic refuse 500 meters below the Earth’s surface and 186 miles east of Paris is still on hold as locals refuse to accept the presence of a long-term nuclear repository near their homes. The story is the same just about everywhere: No one wants to raise families near a nuclear waste dump.

But these days, there are other arguments against nuclear energy that are arguably even more averse to a nuclear revival than the issues of safety and nuclear waste.

Nuclear power plants have actually pulled off one of the most remarkable feats of recent technological history: Where virtually all other technologies have gotten cheaper over time as they have developed and matured, nuclear power has actually become more expensive. Indeed, it has grown dauntingly costly compared with renewables: at least four times as costly as utility-scale solar and onshore wind power. While the cost of solar and wind energy generation, as well as battery storage, plummets by the year—in 2020 alone, onshore wind costs declined by 13 percent and those of utility-scale solar photovoltaics by 7 percent—the bill for new nuclear sites climbs upward.

The price of nuclear generation today is inordinate: a rip-off in terms of value, to put it bluntly. Indeed, while safety concerns drive up the cost of nuclear plant insurance, the price of renewables is predicted to sink further, by as much as 50 percent or more by 2030. This price trend is one reason why in 2020 total investment in new renewable electricity surpassed $300 billion, 17 times global investment in nuclear power, according to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report. No nuclear reactors anywhere are built without enormous government support, and France will be no different: The bill for the French taxpayers will start at $57 billion, according to the New York Times.

This yawning price differential means renewables generate many more times the electricity per dollar invested than does nuclear—and thus decreases emissions by a greater factor.

The single greatest barrier to the so-called nuclear renaissance is nuclear power itself and its inability to deliver affordable power on time and on budget. If Europe’s current headline nuclear projects are a measure—marred for decades now by massive cost overruns and protracted delays—France’s hopes to have its first new reactor up and running by 2035 are illusory. In Flamanville in northwest France, the French energy firm EDF is struggling to finish a reactor that is a full decade behind schedule and now roughly four times above cost projections. The Olkiluoto 3 reactors in Finland, also many times over budget, have been delayed again and again since the early 2000s.

Indeed, not one reactor conceived since 2000 in the European Union has generated even a kilowatt of energy. The Olkiluoto 3 plant may begin commercial activities this year. As for the new, smaller, presumably cheaper nuclear reactors envisioned by billionaire Bill Gates among others, not one is in operation anywhere in the world.

In a widely circulated Jan. 25 letter penned by four former top nuclear energy regulators in France, the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom, the authors excoriated the viability of relying on nuclear energy to beat climate change: Nuclear energy, they argue, “is just not part of any feasible strategy that could counter climate change. To make a relevant contribution to global power generation, up to more than ten thousand new reactors would be required, depending on reactor design.”

The fact is that nuclear power is simply too cumbersome to really play a meaningful role in tackling climate change—in France or elsewhere. We don’t have that kind of time. Indeed, there is no way countries can meet their 2030 decarbonization goals agreed to at the Paris Agreement by embarking now on nuclear power programs.


In stark contrast, renewable energy is a sprinter: Farms can be licensed, financed, and deployed much faster because they’re smaller, less capital intensive, more quickly approved, and easier to build. Depending on the country, vast utility-scale solar fields and onshore wind farms can materialize in just a handful of years. Last year, China brought to life about 50 gigawatts of solar capacity—that’s as much electricity generation as 10 nuclear reactors. Even the average nine-year schedule of offshore wind parks is still much, much shorter than nuclear’s erratic, extended timelines.

In Europe and elsewhere, building out nuclear power will greatly hamper the effort to curb climate change, not help it. “The more urgent climate change is, the more we must invest judiciously, not indiscriminately,” writes sustainability expert Amory Lovins, “to buy cheap, fast, sure options instead of costly, slow, speculative ones.”

In the end, the evidence speaks conclusively for ramping down fossil fuels and nuclear energy as fast as possible while embarking on an all-out expansion of sustainable renewables: wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, hydroelectric, and tidal/wave energy. Modern gas works will back up this clean energy model until green hydrogen can take over. Ever better energy storage, smart grids, energy conservation, and digital management will make this model of the future work.

Germany and Belgium—like Austria, Italy, and nine other EU countries—are looking the facts straight in the eye. By swearing off nuclear energy and fossil fuels at the same time, these countries will have the best chance at making a net-zero energy system functional by 2050, at the latest.  https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/03/22/macron-france-nuclear-energy-climate-renewables/

Paul Hockenos is a Berlin-based journalist. His recent book is Berlin Calling: A Story of Anarchy, Music, the Wall and the Birth of the New Berlin (The New Press).   

April 11, 2022 Posted by | France, politics | 1 Comment

Macron under Putin’s thumb as Russia could CRIPPLE France’s nuclear industry, as it controls uranium supply.

Macron under Putin’s thumb as Russia could CRIPPLE France’s nuclear
industry. The recent reports of atrocities committed by Russian forces in
Bucha have finally pushed the EU into considering a ban on Russian fossil
fuels.

Oil and gas exports make up a large portion of Russia’s economy
and EU is heavily dependent on gas supplies from Moscow, making up 40
percent of its imports. The EU imported a staggering €48.5billion
(£38billion) of crude oil in 2021, and €22.5billion (£19billion) of
petroleum oils other than crude.

But even as EU leaders meet to discuss an immediate ban on Russian coal, experts have warned that aside from fossil fuels, Russia could also manipulate the EU’s energy through its control
of the global uranium supplies.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Dr Paul Dorfman,
an associate fellow at the University of Sussex’s Science Policy Research
Unit (SPRU) and chair of the Nuclear Consulting Group said: “In terms of
energy security, Russian controlled uranium – basically reactors run on
uranium, includes both Russia and corporations in Kazakhstan, which are
Russian controlled.

 Express 9th April 2022

https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/1592617/emmanuel-macron-putin-news-russia-eu-uranium-supplies-nuclear-energynce A

April 11, 2022 Posted by | France, politics international, Uranium | Leave a comment

In France, the nuclear waste keeps piling up: new reactors will add to the dilemma

France inches towards nuclear waste solution as more reactors planned

President Macron’s ‘French Nuclear Renaissance’ aims to provide energy independence and greener electricity for France – but the nuclear waste keeps piling up        Connexion, By George Kazolias, 8 Apr 22,

Emmanuel Macron has announced plans to launch construction of six new nuclear reactors by 2050, along with studies for a possible eight further ones.

He also wants to prolong the life of existing reactors beyond 50 years in what he is calling the “French Nuclear Renaissance”.

Mr Macron’s vision to “take back control of [France’s] energy and industrial destiny” might be a winner with his electorate, but it clashes with the proposals of most of the left-wing presidential candidates, who want to reduce reliance on nuclear power. 

New reactors will add to waste dilemma

Solutions for dealing with the waste already produced by existing power stations, however, are still struggling to get out of the starting blocks – and there is no plan for what would be done with waste from a potential 14 additional ones…………..At present, however, none of France’s nuclear reactor waste has been dealt with in a long-term way. All waste considered radioactive, almost two million cubic tonnes of it, is stored at surface level, in treatment centres and pools, or shallow repositories.

Some 60% of this comes from reactors and the rest is from medical, research, military and other sources. 

The other waste, which includes items such as tools, clothing, mops and medical tubes, is not highly radioactive,

………   More problematic is what to do with France’s intermediate and high-level nuclear waste. 

In 1998, a site near the village of Bure in the Meuse in north east France was chosen as the final storage place for most of it. It will be stored half a kilometre below ground in a vast network of tunnels and galleries known as a Deep Geological Repository (DGR).

The facility will be big enough for all the nuclear waste accumulated so far, but on-site studies, administrative procedures and opposition to the programme, including court cases and civil disobedience, have slowed its opening.

Deep underground storage could be three years away

The Bure DGR will store the waste in galleries carved out of 160-million-year-old compacted clay rocks. Known by its French acronym, Cigéo, the project currently holds 84% of the 665 hectares required to build the facility. The prefecture of the Meuse gave it a declaration of public utility (DUP) in December – a formal recognition that a proposed project has public benefits that must be obtained for most large construction and infrastructure projects before work can begin.

Once the Conseil d’Etat gives its consent, the prime minister can sign his own DUP. Andra will then have the power to get the rest of the property it needs.

In the meantime, work has continued with digging of wells and galleries to test reversible techniques of stocking waste for up to 100,000 years.

The prime minister is expected to sign off only after the presidential elections, but the final green light might be three years away as the rigorous and independent Nuclear Security Agency studies the permit request to move and store the spent nuclear fuel and other radioactive matter.

Plans are for existing not future waste

Activity at the Cigéo remains high, nevertheless. This year, a 1,700m² building, called The Eclipse, is being built to house companies working on underground trials.

A 100m-long cavity will also be dug to test technologies and conduct experiments. This is the length each cavity will have to be for intermediate-level waste, which is often solidified into concrete.

The nuclear authority is hoping to start storing this type of waste in 2025.

It is impossible to bury the high-level radioactive waste. This is turned into a glass-like substance, but then requires a cooling period of at least 50 years. 

The clay storage facilities cannot handle temperatures above 90C.

Senator Sido said: “It is true that the most recent batches cannot be stocked in their present state. They are too hot and need a cooling-off period of several decades. But the first batches can be stocked now.” 

The remaining high-level waste might not arrive before 2060. By then, France will have produced at least as much nuclear waste again. For that, it might have to create a new underground facility.

“As far as I know, there is no project in the pipeline for high-level and long-lived waste which will be produced in the future,” Mr Sido said.  https://www.connexionfrance.com/article/Practical/Environment/France-inches-towards-nuclear-waste-solution-as-more-reactors-planned

April 9, 2022 Posted by | France, wastes | 1 Comment

France pays the steep cost of inflexible and ageing nuclear as electricity prices soar

French baseload and peak prices soar due to a combination of massive outages of French nuclear power plants, cold weather and inefficient heating

France pays the steep cost of inflexible and ageing nuclear as electricity prices soar — RenewEconomy 3 Apr 22,

The common refrain among critics of wind and solar is to blame their “variability” or “intermittency” for soaring electricity prices as Europe wrestles with gas shortages worsened by the war in Ukraine. But France, the nuclear “pin-up” country for the anti-renewables brigade, is not faring so well either.

Over the weekend, the key “day ahead” prices of electricity in France surged to unprecedented levels. On Friday, the futures price for “baseload” for wholesale French electricity price hit the eye-watering level of €714 a megawatt hour ($A1050/MWh).

It didn’t get much better by Sunday, when the day-ahead price for Monday settled at €515/MWh ($A758/MWh), which is the predicted average price over a 24-hour period. The price for peak electricity between 8am and 9am was €2,987/MWh ($A4,400/MWh).

The prices for both baseload and peak prices in the rest of the European market were significantly cheaper, and in Germany it was dramatically so.

The main reasons? Both supply and demand. Less than half (30GW) of France’s 64GW of nuclear capacity was available, thanks to planned and unplanned outages, and extended repairs due to corrosion issues in their ageing plants.

The forecast is for cold weather, and many French homes are fired with inefficient, energy hungry electric resistance heating, largely as a result that the French believed they had no reason to be energy efficient because of the their massive investment in nuclear.

“Massive outages of French nuclear power plants, in combination with cold weather and electric (often resistance) heating, are causing a critical situation for electricity supply there tomorrow,” energy analyst Kewes van der Leun tweeted over the weekend.

The French authority called on consumers to reduce their power consumption.

The situation in Europe is similar to the growing “north-side” divide in electricity prices in Australia, identified by the Australian Energy Market Operator, which has noted that since early 2021 average prices in the most heavily coal dependent states of Queensland and NSW are considering higher than elsewhere.

Partly that is due to a lack of transmission (France has similar problems), but also to the inflexibility of baseload, and the desperation of baseload owners to bid up prices when they can to recoup their costs.

Sure, states with high amounts of renewables do experience price spikes, but they tend to be short lived and the average price is significantly lower than so-called “cheap” coal.

The situation in France is not likely to get better any time soon. President Emmanuel Macron has pledge to invest significantly more in nuclear and his far-right opponent, Marine Le Pen (who is given an outside chance of unseating him) has pledge to stop all new wind and solar development.

But new nuclear won’t help. At the very best, a new reactor could be online by 2035, although France’s recent experience with massive cost over-runs and delays would put a major question mark over that being achieved.  

French baseload and peak prices soar due to a combination of massive outages of French nuclear power plants, cold weather and inefficient heating

France pays the steep cost of inflexible and ageing nuclear as electricity prices soar — RenewEconomy

The common refrain among critics of wind and solar is to blame their “variability” or “intermittency” for soaring electricity prices as Europe wrestles with gas shortages worsened by the war in Ukraine. But France, the nuclear “pin-up” country for the anti-renewables brigade, is not faring so well either.

Over the weekend, the key “day ahead” prices of electricity in France surged to unprecedented levels. On Friday, the futures price for “baseload” for wholesale French electricity price hit the eye-watering level of €714 a megawatt hour ($A1050/MWh).

It didn’t get much better by Sunday, when the day-ahead price for Monday settled at €515/MWh ($A758/MWh), which is the predicted average price over a 24-hour period. The price for peak electricity between 8am and 9am was €2,987/MWh ($A4,400/MWh).

The prices for both baseload and peak prices in the rest of the European market were significantly cheaper, and in Germany it was dramatically so.

The main reasons? Both supply and demand. Less than half (30GW) of France’s 64GW of nuclear capacity was available, thanks to planned and unplanned outages, and extended repairs due to corrosion issues in their ageing plants.

The forecast is for cold weather, and many French homes are fired with inefficient, energy hungry electric resistance heating, largely as a result that the French believed they had no reason to be energy efficient because of the their massive investment in nuclear.

“Massive outages of French nuclear power plants, in combination with cold weather and electric (often resistance) heating, are causing a critical situation for electricity supply there tomorrow,” energy analyst Kewes van der Leun tweeted over the weekend.

The French authority called on consumers to reduce their power consumption.

The situation in Europe is similar to the growing “north-side” divide in electricity prices in Australia, identified by the Australian Energy Market Operator, which has noted that since early 2021 average prices in the most heavily coal dependent states of Queensland and NSW are considering higher than elsewhere.

Partly that is due to a lack of transmission (France has similar problems), but also to the inflexibility of baseload, and the desperation of baseload owners to bid up prices when they can to recoup their costs.

Sure, states with high amounts of renewables do experience price spikes, but they tend to be short lived and the average price is significantly lower than so-called “cheap” coal.

The situation in France is not likely to get better any time soon. President Emmanuel Macron has pledge to invest significantly more in nuclear and his far-right opponent, Marine Le Pen (who is given an outside chance of unseating him) has pledge to stop all new wind and solar development.

But new nuclear won’t help. At the very best, a new reactor could be online by 2035, although France’s recent experience with massive cost over-runs and delays would put a major question mark over that being achieved.  

April 4, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics | 3 Comments

Macron rubbing hands with glee as UK energy crisis means EDF poised for ‘£30bn payday’

Macron rubbing hands with glee as UK energy crisis means EDF poised ‘£30bn payday’. EMMANUEL MACRON could win big from the UK energy crisis, with EDF being tipped to secure contracts worth nearly £30 billion.

Dr Paul Dorfman, an associate fellow at the University of Sussex said: “The UK has a very strong relationship with EDF, they own and run the substance of UK reactors and are helping to build Hinckley point and the rest of it.

“However, EDF are in debt. Moodys, the financial organisation has recently downgraded EDF’s credit rating. A quarter of all of France’s reactors are currently offline due to safety and security problems, that’s
largely because they have an ageing nuclear fleet, like us.

“In order to kind of try to prolong their lifespan, the French government has big upgrade of their nuclear. “The cost estimates are around £70-80 billion just to upgrade, just to keep them tottering on.”

EDF is currently constructing the Hinckley Point C nuclear power station and is also adding new reactors to Sizewell C in Suffolk and Bradwell B in Essex. Dr Dorfman has warned that these new reactors constructed by EDF are the same type of EPR reactors that were built in France, which the French court of Auditors estimated cost an extra €19billion (almost £16 billion). He continued: “EDF is clear about the need for Government investment in order to proceed with Sizewell C.”

 Express 1st April 2022

https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/1589803/emmanuel-macron-uk-energy-crisis-edf-boost-nuclear-power

April 4, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics international | Leave a comment

Greenpeace activists storm French nuclear plant

Greenpeace activists break into the construction site of the Flamanville
EPR nuclear reactor to protest against pro-nuclear candidates in the French
presidential elections.

Launched at the end of 2007, the Normandy project
is 11 years overdue and its cost has risen to 12.7 billion euros according
to EDF, compared with the 3.3 billion announced in 2006. Greenpeace France
has called for an independent assessment of the viability of EPR nuclear
reactors.

 Euronews 31st March 2022

https://www.euronews.com/2022/03/31/greenpeace-activists-storm-french-nuclear-power-plant

April 2, 2022 Posted by | France, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment