Outstanding Reporting on France’s Nuclear Power Challenge

November 13, 2022

Sources cited:

France’s Nuclear Build-up Grubler, A. (2010). The costs of the French nuclear scale-up: A case of negative learning by doing. Energy Policy, 38(9), 5174–5188. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2010….

Rapport Folz Folz, J.-M. (n.d.). Rapport – vie publique. Retrieved November 7, 2022, from https://www.vie-publique.fr/sites/def…

The ARENH Mechanism: The ARENH, regulated access to France’s historic nuclear energy. Magnus Commodities. (2022, August 17). Retrieved November 7, 2022, from https://www.magnuscmd.com/the-arenh-r…

The difficulties of EDF (3 part series by Le Point): EDF, Les Racines d’un crash : “Une entreprise normale ferait faillite”. LExpansion.com. (2022, October 4). Retrieved November 7, 2022, from https://lexpansion.lexpress.fr/actual…

EDF, Les Racines d’un crash : “C’est l’union soviétique, avec un peu plus d’argent”. LExpansion.com. (2022, October 4). Retrieved November 7, 2022, from https://lexpansion.lexpress.fr/actual…

EDF, Les Racines d’un crash : Les “Trahisons” De l’Etat Actionnaire. LExpansion.com. (2022, October 5). Retrieved November 7, 2022, from https://lexpansion.lexpress.fr/actual…

Overview of Europe’s nuclear future: Hernandez, A. (2021, March 12).

Europe’s Sputtering Nuclear Renaissance. POLITICO. Retrieved November 7, 2022, from https://www.politico.eu/article/europ…



3 Responses to “Outstanding Reporting on France’s Nuclear Power Challenge”

  1. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    Good description of a complex problem.
    The privatization meant that EDF would be a monopoly, so the government came up with a gimmick to foster competition out of EDF’s own pocket, and EDF no longer got all of the returns from the nuclear plants it managed.

    Add in anti-nuke pressure,
    fragmentation of the construction components,
    loss of investor confidence,
    changes of regulations on the fly,
    prices undercut by wind and solar,
    and overoptimistic promises on Flamanville,
    and the aging fleet falls apart.

  2. John Oneill Says:

    The ‘aging’ fleet could easily, with good maintenance, last eighty years, as several similar reactors in the US have already been licenced for. The French political class have undervalued the asset they inherited for decades, and as a result, most of the prestige and funding has been going to alternatives, including wind and solar. The perverse ‘ARENH’ system meant that, under the guise of promoting competition, Electricite de France was paying renewables developers, often owned by gas companies, to cream off the profits it should have been ploughing back into maintenance and research, to fund more expensive, less reliable alternatives.
    Closing the two perfectly functional Fessenheim reactors, fresh out of a multi-billion Euro renovation, and only two years before the energy crisis, is par for the course in yesterday’s Europe. Macron had inherited his energy minister- actually titled ‘Minister of the Ecological Transition’ – from the Green party. Green ministers have also been switching off desperately needed reliable reactors in Belgium and Germany, with the former planned to be replaced by state-subsidised gas turbines and Russian gas, and the latter mostly by lignite-burning eyesores which had been mothballed for a rainy day.
    The Fessenheim reactors cannot be reinstated – the primary circuit was flushed with corrosive acid. It’s not too late to bring back at least two of the three reactors switched off in Germany on December 31st last year, and the three still running, at 98.6% of capacity, but once slated to close this December. Nor is there any technical reason why all the French and Belgian reactors shouldn’t serve another twenty years, at least. The only obstacles are political. However expensive it might be to maintain already running reactors, it will be far cheaper than building a full time, reliable power system out of an assembly of part-time, unreliable components. The French nuclear fleet is only running at 49.6% of its potential right now, but the wind fleet is at 18%, and solar at 7%.

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