France gets nearly 80% of its electricity from its 58 reactors. However, such a heavy reliance on nuclear power brings with it many major, unsolved problems, most especially that of radioactive waste. Despite assertions to the contrary, the French nuclear story is far from a gleaming example of nuclear success.



France to reduce nuclear power by one-third by 2025

As reported by EUObserver:

Luxembourg's PM Xavier Bettel offered on Monday to help France finance the closure of the Cattenom nuclear power plant near its borders. French PM Manuel Valls visiting Luxembourg pledged to cut French reliance on nuclear energy from more than 75 percent to 50 percent by shutting 24 reactors by 2025.

This one-third reduction of nuclear power in France is actually bigger than Germany's better known nuclear power phase out by 2022, because Germany has so many fewer reactors than France. France, with 58 reactors, is the second most of any country (the U.S. has the most, with 99 currently operating). In terms of percentage of electricity generated by nuclear power, France is the worst in the world, at 75%. But a major reduction is planned over the course of the coming decade.


"France Plans to Reduce Nuclear in Favor of Renewables"

As reported by Eric Marx and ClimateWire/E&E, reprinted in Scientific American:

"France, one of the world’s leaders in nuclear energy production, plans to draw down nuclear’s share of electricity generation from 75 to 50 percent by 2025—giving itself a 10-year time frame equivalent to the complete shutdown now ongoing in Germany."

The article concludes:

“Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come,” said Jedliczka [of the environmental advocacy group Négawatt Society], quoting Victor Hugo. “In the medium to long term, I am very optimistic that PV—both small and large—and wind will develop on their own without public support,” he said.

“Even in France,” he added, “where the opposition has proven itself adept at inventing, testing and improving all kinds of pitfalls for postponing the development of renewables technologies.”


New French EPR in Finland now estimated to come in nine years overdue

As reported by NucNet, the Finnish nuclear utility TVO has revealed its latest estimate for grid connection of its Olkiluoto-3 reactor in Finland: 2018. That's nine years late, a major part of the reason that the original price tag has also soared. The new reactor is a French Areva EPR (European Pressurized Water Reactor).


Farewell Flamanville? French reactor may be toast

Such serious flaws have now been found in the French prototype EPR reactor still under construction at Flamanville in France (pictured) that the project may have to be scrapped. Authorities have found that the project has a faulty steel reactor vessel at risk of splitting, a 100% unacceptable outcome. But because the reactor vessel is already encased in a concrete well it would be laborious and very costly to replace. The alternative is to scrap the project.

Pierre-Franck Chevet, president of France's nuclear safety authority (ASN), told the French daily newspaper, Le Parisien, the anomalies were in the "base and lid" of the vessel, which is "an absolutely crucial component of the nuclear reactor on which no risk of breakage can be taken."

The major setback is just the latest in a string of disasters for the EPR once touted as the poster child of new nuclear reactors. Enormous delays and equally vast cost-overruns have plagued the Flamanville project as well as the EPRs under construction in Finland and China. China recently stopped loading fuel into its EPR reactors over safety concerns. More. 


French anti-nuclear activist acquitted in defamation case brought by Areva

Anti-nuclear activist, Stéphane Lhomme, president of L'Obsveratoire du nucléaire, was acquitted today by an appeals court of defaming the French corporate nuclear giant Areva. Lhomme had originally been convicted but appealed the decision. In December 2012 he had revealed through documents evidence that Areva had paid the government of Niger (where it mines uranium) 26 milllion euros, of which 15 million had been used to buy a plane for the country's president. The donation and purchase were confirmed by the Niger president. Areva denied that this amounted to corruption. When originally convicted and charged a fine in February 2014, Lhomme was told by the court that he had not proven corruption.