Nuclear power in France
Nuclear power is the largest source of electricity in France, with a generation of 379.5 TWh, or 70.6% of the country's total electricity production of 537.7 TWh, the highest percentage in the world.
Électricité de France (EDF) – the country's main electricity generation and distribution company – manages the country's 58 power reactors. EDF is substantially owned by the French Government, with around 85% shares in government hands.
France has a long relationship with nuclear power, starting with Henri Becquerel's discovery of natural radioactivity in the 1890s and continued by famous nuclear scientists such as Pierre and Marie Skłodowska Curie.
Before World War II, France had been mainly involved in nuclear research through the work of the Joliot-Curies. In 1945 the Provisional Government of the French Republic (GPRF) created the Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique (CEA) governmental agency, and Nobel prize winner Frédéric Joliot-Curie, member of the French Communist Party (PCF) since 1942, was appointed high-commissioner. He was relieved of his duties in 1950 for political reasons contingent upon the Cold War, and later was one of the 11 signatories to the Russell-Einstein Manifesto in 1955. The CEA was created by Charles de Gaulle on 18 October 1945. Its mandate is to conduct fundamental and applied research into many areas, including the design of nuclear reactors, the manufacturing of integrated circuits, the use of radionuclides for medical treatments, seismology and tsunami propagation, and the safety of computerized systems.
Nuclear research was discontinued for a time after the war, owing to the instability of the Fourth Republic and the lack of finances available. However, in the 1950s a civil nuclear research program was started, a by-product of which was plutonium. A secret Committee for the Military Applications of Atomic Energy was formed in 1956, and a development program for delivery vehicles started. In 1957, soon after the Suez Crisis and the diplomatic tension with both the USSR and the United States, French president René Coty decided on the creation of the C.S.E.M. in what was then French Sahara, a new nuclear testing facility replacing the CIEES testing facility. See France and nuclear weapons.
The first nuclear power plant by EDF in France was opened in 1962.
As a direct result of the 1973 oil crisis, on 6 March 1974 Prime Minister Pierre Messmer announced what became known as the 'Messmer Plan', a huge nuclear power program aimed at generating all of France's electricity from nuclear power. At the time of the oil crisis most of France's electricity came from foreign oil. Nuclear power allowed France to compensate for its lack of indigenous energy resources by applying its strengths in heavy engineering. The situation was summarized in a slogan: "In France, we do not have oil, but we have ideas."
The announcement of the Messmer Plan, which was enacted without public or parliamentary debate, also led to the foundation of the Groupement des scientifiques pour l'information sur l'énergie nucléaire (Association of Scientists for Information on Nuclear Energy), formed after around 4,000 scientists signed a petition of concern over the government's action, known as the Appeal of the 400 after the 400 scientists who initially signed it.
The reason that the Messmer Plan was enacted without public or parliamentary debate, was because that there was no tradition to do that with high technological and strategic important decisions in the governments of France and the parliament did not have a scientific commission with sufficient technical means to handle such scientific and strategic decisions, just like the public does not have such means. France does not have any procedure of public inquiries to allow the assessment of major technological programmes. The plan envisaged the construction of around 80 nuclear plants by 1985 and a total of 170 plants by 2000. Work on the first three plants, at Tricastin, Gravelines, and Dampierre started the same year and France installed 56 reactors over the next 15 years. 
As of 2020 nuclear power sector in France is the largest energy source of clean energy in EU with massive energy export to all neighbor countries of France, while France having some of the lowest emissions from electricity production in EU, on average 5x lower than Germany.
Following the 2011 Fukushima I nuclear accidents, the head of France's nuclear safety agency said that France needed to upgrade the protection of vital functions in all its nuclear reactors to avoid a disaster in the event of a natural calamity, adding there was no need to close any plants. "There is a need to add a layer to protect safety mechanisms in reactors that are vital for the protection of the reactor such as cooling functions and electric powering", Jacques Repussard, head of the IRSN, said. Opinion polls showed support for atomic energy had dropped since Fukushima. Forty percent of the French "are 'hesitant' about nuclear energy while a third are in favor and 17 percent are against, according to a survey by pollster Ifop published November 13".
In February 2012, President Sarkozy decided to extend the life of existing nuclear reactors beyond 40 years, following the Court of Audit decision that that would be the best option, for new nuclear capacity or other forms of energy would be more costly and available too late. Within ten years 22 out of the 58 reactors will have been operating for over 40 years. The court expects EDF's projected investment programme in existing plant, including post Fukushima safety improvements, will add between 9.5% and 14.5% to generation costs, taking costs to between 37.9 and 54.2 EUR/MWh. Generation costs from the new Flamanville EPR reactor are estimated to be at least in the 70-to-90 EUR/MWh range, depending on construction outcome. Academics at Paris Dauphine University forecast that domestic electricity prices would rise by about 30% by 2020.
Following François Hollande's victory in the 2012 presidential election, it was thought that there might be a partial nuclear phaseout in France. This followed a national debate in the run-up to the election, with President Nicolas Sarkozy backing nuclear power and François Hollande proposing a cut in nuclear power's electricity contribution by more than a third by 2025. It seemed certain that Hollande would at least order the closure of the Fessenheim Nuclear Power Plant by 2017 where there has been an ongoing closure campaign due to concerns about seismic activity and flooding.
Active efforts by the French government to market the advanced European Pressurized Reactor have been hampered by cost overruns, delays, and competition from other nations, such as South Korea, which offer simpler, cheaper reactors.
In 2015, the National Assembly voted that by 2025 only 50% of France's energy will be produced by nuclear plants. Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot noted in November 2017 that this goal is unrealistic, postponing the reduction to 2030 or 2035.
In 2016, following a discovery at Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant, about 400 large steel forgings manufactured by Le Creusot Forge since 1965 have been found to have carbon-content irregularities that weakened the steel. A widespread programme of reactor checks was started involving a progressive programme of reactor shutdowns, likely to continue over the winter high electricity demand period into 2017. This caused power price increases in Europe as France increased electricity imports, especially from Germany, to augment supply. As of late October 2016, 20 of France's 58 reactors are offline. These steel quality concerns may prevent the regulator giving the life extensions from 40 to 50 years, that had been assumed by energy planners, for many reactors. In December 2016 the Wall Street Journal characterised the problem as a "decades long coverup of manufacturing problems", with Areva executives acknowledging that Le Creusot had been falsifying documents.
In November 2018, President Macron announced the 50% nuclear power reduction target is being delayed to 2035, and would involve closing fourteen 900 MWe reactors. The two oldest reactors, units 1 and 2 at Fessenheim, will close in 2020. A decision on any new nuclear build will be taken in 2021. EDF is planning an investment programme, called Grand Carénage, to extend reactor lifespans to 50 years, to be largely completed by 2025.
Management and economics
Électricité de France (EDF) – the country's main electricity generation and distribution company – manages the country's nuclear power plants. EDF is substantially owned by the French government, with around 85% of EDF shares in government hands. 78.9% of Areva shares are owned by the French public sector company CEA and are therefore in public ownership. EDF remains heavily in debt. Its profitability suffered during the recession which began in 2008. It made €3.9 billion in 2009, which fell to €1.02 billion in 2010, with provisions set aside amounting to €2.9 billion. The Nuclear industry has been accused of significant cost overruns and failing to cover the total costs of operation, including waste management and decommissioning.[full citation needed]</ref>[failed verification]
In 2001, nuclear construction and services company Areva was created by the merger of CEA Industrie, Framatome and Cogema (now Areva NC). Its main shareholder is the French owned company CEA, but the German federal government also holds, through Siemens, 34% of the shares of Areva's subsidiary, Areva NP, in charge of building the EPR (third-generation nuclear reactor).
In 2010, as part of the progressive liberalisation of the energy market under EU directives, France agreed the Accès régulé à l'électricité nucléaire historique (ARENH) regulations that allowed third party suppliers access up to about a quarter of France's pre-2011 nuclear generation capacity, at a fixed price of €42/MWh from 1 July 2011 until 31 December 2025.
As of 2015, France's electricity price, excluding taxation, to household customers is the 12th cheapest amongst the 28 member European Union and the second-cheapest to industrial consumers.
EDF said its third-generation nuclear reactor EPR project at its Flamanville, northern France, plant will be delayed until 2016, due to "both structural and economic reasons," which will bring the project's total cost to EUR8.5 billion. Similarly, the cost of the Olkiluoto Nuclear Power Plant (EPR) to be built in Finland has escalated. Areva and the utility involved "are in bitter dispute over who will bear the cost overruns and there is a real risk now that the utility will default. EDF has suggested that if the political environment causes the EPR costs to overrun, the design would be replaced with a cheaper and simpler Franco-Japanese design, the Atmea for which the design will be completed by 2013, or the already operating Franco-Chinese design, the CPR-1000." In July 2018, EDF further delayed fuel loading to Q4 2019 and increased the project's cost estimate by a further €400 million (US$467.1 million). Startup is now scheduled to occur no earlier than Q2 2020 and EDF now estimates project costs at €10.9 billion (US$12.75 billion), three times the original cost estimates. Hot testing is currently planned to occur by the end of 2018
In 2016, the European Commission assessed that France's nuclear decommissioning liabilities were seriously underfunded, with only 23 billion euros of earmarked assets to cover 74.1 billion euros of expected decommissioning costs.
In October 2019, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire released an audit report on the construction of the heavily delayed and nearly four times over-budget Flamanville 3 EPR development, started by Areva in 2007, which assessed it as largely a project management and skills failure. The Finance Minister demanded EDF present within a month an action plan for the project, calling it "a failure for the entire French nuclear industry".
In 2020, the French government announced plans to change the wholesale nuclear power market, to enable EDF to completely cover its costs while preventing price volatility. A "price corridor" with floor and ceiling price limits would be defined for wholesale nuclear power electricity, rather than the current fixed €42/MWh for a quarter of production, which third-party suppliers used to avoid peak period high prices. A price band of €42-48/MWh has been suggested, though pricing would be controlled by regulator Commission de régulation de l'énergie (CRE). Some prefer a higher price band to finance new nuclear builds to replace older reactors, for example Francois Dos Santos of the EDF central works council suggested a €47-53/MWh price band.
This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Drawing such a large percentage of overall electrical production from nuclear power is unique to France. This reliance has resulted in certain necessary deviations from the standard design and function of other nuclear power programs. For instance, in order to meet changing demand throughout the day, some plants must work as peaking power plant, whereas most nuclear plants in the world operate as base-load plants, and allow other fossil or hydro units to adjust to demand. Nuclear power in France has a total capacity factor of around 77%, which is low due to load following. However availability is around 84%, indicating excellent overall performance of the plants.
The first eight power reactors in the nation were gas cooled reactor types (UNGG reactor), whose development was pioneered by CEA. Coinciding with a uranium enrichment program, EDF developed pressurized water reactor (PWR) technology which eventually became the dominant type. The gas-cooled reactors located at Brennilis, Bugey, Chinon, and Marcoule have all been shut down.
All operating plants today are PWRs. The sodium-cooled fast breeder reactor technology development reactors, Phénix and Superphénix, have been shut down. Work on a more advanced design in the form of the ASTRID reactor was finally abandoned in September 2019.
The PWR plants were all developed by Framatome (now Areva) from the initial Westinghouse design. All currently operating PWR plants are of three design variations, having output powers of 900 MWe, 1300 MWe, and 1450 MWe. The repeated use of these standard variants of a design has afforded France the greatest degree of nuclear plant standardization in the world.
900 MWe class (CP0, CP1 and CP2 designs)
There are a total of 34 of these reactors in operation; most were constructed in the 1970s and the early 1980s. In 2002, they had a uniform review and all were granted a 10-year life extension.
With the CP0 and CP1 designs, two reactors share the same machine and command room. With the CP2 design, each reactor has its own machine and command room. Apart from this difference, CP1 and CP2 use the same technologies, and the two types are frequently referred to as CPY. Compared to CP0 they have an additional cooling circuit between the emergency system that in case of an accident allows to spray water into the containment and the circuit which contains river water, a more flexible control system and some minor difference in the layout of the building.
This three loop design (three steam generators and three primary circulation pumps) was also exported to a number of other countries, including:
- South Africa – two units at the Koeberg nuclear power station
- South Korea – two units at the Ulchin Nuclear Power Plant
- China, also designated as M310:
1300 MWe class (P4 and P'4 designs)
There are 20 reactors of this design (four steam generators and four primary circulation pumps) operating in France. The P4 and P'4 type have some minor difference in the layout of the building, especially for the structure which contain the fuel rods and the circuitry.
1450 MWe class (N4 design)
There are only 4 of these reactors, housed at two separate sites: Civaux and Chooz. Construction of these reactors started between 1984 and 1991, but full commercial operation did not begin until between 2000 and 2002 because of thermal fatigue flaws in the heat removal system requiring the redesign and replacement of parts in each N4 power station. In 2003 the stations were all uprated to 1500 MWe.
1650 MWe class (EPR design)
The next generation design for French reactors is the EPR, which is also intended for foreign markets. Two EPR units are in operation at the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant in China. Under construction units include one at the Olkiluoto Nuclear Power Plant in Finland and two at the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in the United Kingdom. Construction of the first French EPR started at the Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant in 2007. The completion date was set for 2012, but the reactor suffered delays and cost overruns. As of 2019[update], completion was scheduled for late 2022, ten years behind schedule. An additional EPR reactor was planned for the Penly Nuclear Power Plant, but this project has now been abandoned.
The reactor design was developed by Areva contributing its N4 reactor technology and the German company Siemens contributing its Konvoi reactor technology. In keeping with the French approach of highly standardized plants and proven technology, it uses more traditional active safety systems and is more similar to current plant designs than international competitors such as the AP1000 or the ESBWR.
In 2013, EDF acknowledged the difficulties it was having building the EPR design. In September 2015, EDF's chief executive, Jean-Bernard Lévy, stated that the design of a "New Model" EPR was being worked on, which will be easier and cheaper to build, which would be ready for orders from about 2020. In 2016 EDF planned to build two New Model EPR reactors in France by 2030 to prepare for renewing its fleet of older reactors. However following financial difficulties at Areva, and its merger with EDF, French Energy Minister Nicolas Hulot said in January 2018 "for now [building a New Model EPR] is neither a priority or a plan. Right now the priority is to develop renewable energy and to reduce the share of nuclear."
The majority of nuclear plants in France are located away from the coasts and obtain their cooling water from rivers. These plants employ cooling towers to reduce their impact on the environment. The temperature of emitted water carrying the waste heat is strictly limited by the French government, and this has proved to be problematic during recent heat waves.
Five plants, equaling 18 reactors are located on the coast:
- Gravelines Nuclear Power Station
- Penly Nuclear Power Plant
- Paluel Nuclear Power Plant
- Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant
- Blayais Nuclear Power Plant
These five get their cooling water directly from the ocean and can thus dump their waste heat directly back into the sea, which is slightly more economical.
France is one of the few countries in the world with an active nuclear reprocessing program, with the COGEMA La Hague site. Enrichment work, some MOX fuel fabrication, and other activities take place at the Tricastin Nuclear Power Centre. Enrichment is completely domestic and is powered by 2/3 of the output of the nuclear plant at Tricastin. Reprocessing of fuel from other countries has been done for the United States and Japan, who have expressed the desire to develop a more closed fuel cycle similar to what France has achieved. MOX fuel fabrication services have also been sold to other countries, notably to the USA for the Megatons to Megawatts Program, using plutonium from dismantled nuclear weapons.
While France does not mine uranium for the front end of the fuel cycle domestically, French companies have various holdings in the uranium market. Uranium for the French program totalled 8000 tonnes annually as of 2014.:79 Areva is involved in uranium mining operations in Canada, Kazakhstan, Namibia, and Niger.:236
France's nuclear reactors comprise 90 per cent of EDFs capacity and so they are used in load-following mode and some reactors close at weekends because there is no market for the electricity. This means that the capacity factor is low by world standards, usually in the high seventies as a percentage, which is not an ideal economic situation for nuclear plants.
During periods of high demand EDF has been routinely "forced into the relatively expensive spot and short-term power markets because it lacks adequate peak load generating capacity". France heavily relies on electric heating, with about one third of existing and three-quarters of new houses using electric space heating due to the low off-peak tariffs offered. Due to this residential heating demand, about 2.3 GW of extra power is needed for every degree Celsius of temperature drop. This means that during cold snaps, French electricity demand increases dramatically, forcing the country to import at full capacity from its neighbours during peak demand. For example, in February 2012, Germany "came to the rescue of France during last week's cold snap by massively exporting electricity to its neighbour".
All but five of EDFs plants are inland and require fresh water for cooling. Eleven of these 15 inland plants have cooling towers, using evaporative cooling, while the others use lake or river water directly. In very hot summers, generation output may be restricted.
In 2008, nuclear power accounted for 16% of final energy consumption in France. As is common in all industrialized nations, fossil fuels still dominate energy consumption, particularly in the transportation and heating sectors. However, nuclear constitutes a higher level of total energy consumption in France than in any other country. In 2001, nuclear power accounted for 37% of the total energy consumption in France. In 2011, France consumed about 3,200 TWh (11 quadrillion BTU) of energy according to the Energy Information Administration.
Accidents and incidents
|17 October 1969||Saint-Laurent, France||50 kg of uranium in one of the reactors at the Saint-Laurent Nuclear Power Plant began to melt, an event classified at 'level 4' on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES). As of March 2011, this remains the most serious civil nuclear power accident in France.||?|
|25 July 1979||Saclay, France||Radioactive fluids escape into drains designed for ordinary wastes, seeping into the local watershed at the Saclay BL3 Reactor||5|
|13 March 1980||Loir-et-Cher, France||A malfunctioning cooling system fuses fuel elements together at the Saint Laurent A2 reactor, ruining the fuel assembly and forcing an extended shutdown||22|
|14 April 1984||Bugey, France||Electrical cables fail at the command centre of the Bugey Nuclear Power Plant and force a complete shutdown of one reactor||2|
|22 May 1986||Normandy, France||A reprocessing plant at La Hague malfunctions and exposes workers to unsafe levels of radiation and forces five to be hospitalised||5|
|12 April 1987||Tricastin, France||Tricastin fast breeder reactor leaks coolant, sodium and uranium hexachloride, injuring seven workers and contaminating water supplies||50|
|27 December 1999||Blayais, France||An unexpectedly strong storm floods the Blayais Nuclear Power Plant, forcing an emergency shutdown after injection pumps and containment safety systems fail from water damage||55|
|21 January 2002||Manche, France||Control systems and safety valves fail after improper installation of condensers, forcing a two-month shutdown||102|
|16 May 2005||Lorraine, France||Sub-standard electrical cables at the Cattenom-2 nuclear reactor cause a fire in an electricity tunnel, damaging safety systems||12|
|13 July 2008||Tricastin, France||75 kg of natural uranium, in thousands of litres of solution, accidentally spilled on the ground and run off into a nearby river||7|
|12 August 2009||Gravelines, France||Assembly system fails to properly eject spent fuel rods from the Gravelines Nuclear Power Plant, causing the fuel rods to jam and the reactor to shut down||2|
|12 September 2011||Marcoule, France||One person was killed and four injured, one seriously, in a blast at the Marcoule Nuclear Site. The explosion took place in a furnace used to melt metallic waste and did not represent a nuclear accident.||?|
In July 2008, 18,000 litres (4,755 gallons) of uranium solution containing natural uranium were accidentally released from Tricastin Nuclear Power Centre. Due to cleaning and repair work the containment system for a uranium solution holding tank was not functional when the tank filled. The inflow exceeded the tank's capacity and 30 cubic metres of uranium solution leaked, with 18 cubic metres spilled on the ground. Testing found elevated uranium levels in the nearby Gaffière and Lauzon rivers. The liquid that escaped to the ground contained about 75 kg of natural uranium, which is toxic as a heavy metal, but only slightly radioactive. Estimates for the releases were initially higher, up to 360 kg of natural uranium, but revised downward later. French authorities banned the use of water from the Gaffière and Lauzon for drinking and watering of crops for 2 weeks. Swimming, water sports and fishing were also banned. This incident has been classified as Level 1 (anomaly) on the International Nuclear Event Scale. Shortly after the first incident, approximately 100 employees were exposed to minor doses of radiation (1/40 of the annual limit) due to a piping failure.
In October 2017, EDF announced it would repair fire safety system pipes at 20 nuclear reactors to increase seismic safety after discovering thinning metal in some sections of pipes. EDF classified this as a Level 2 (incident) on the International Nuclear Event Scale.
In 2006, the Autorité de sûreté nucléaire (ASN) was created as the independent French nuclear safety regulator, replacing the General Direction for Nuclear Safety and Radioprotection.
In 2012, the ASN released a report announcing a sweeping safety upgrade to all the country's reactors. The ASN's report states plainly that a loss of coolant or electricity could, in the worst cases, see meltdowns at nuclear reactors in hours. It also lists many shortcomings found during 'stress tests', in which some safety aspects of plants were found not to meet existing standards. It will now require all power plants to build a set of safety systems of last resort, contained in bunkers that will be hardened to withstand more extreme earthquakes, floods and other threats than plants themselves are designed to cope with. It will also adopt a proposal by EDF to create an elite force that is specifically trained to tackle nuclear accidents and could be deployed to any site within hours. Both moves are a response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Monique Sené is a nuclear physicist and one of the co-founders of the Groupement des scientifiques pour l'information sur l'énergie nucléaire (GSIEN) (Association of Scientists for Information on Nuclear Energy) and its first president. As of March 2011, she was Honorary Research Director at the National Centre for Scientific Research and president of GSIEN. Although she is not an opponent of nuclear power per se, Sené is a high-profile critic of the French nuclear power programme due to concerns about its safety, the handling of nuclear waste and its imposition without public debate.
Following the 2011 Fukushima I nuclear accidents, there has been an increased focus on the risks associated with seismic activity in France, with particular attention focused on the Fessenheim Nuclear Power Plant.
General seismic risk in France is categorised on a five-point scale, with zone 1 being very low risk, through to zone 5 in areas with a 'very strong' risk. In Metropolitan France the areas of highest risk are rated at 4, 'strong', and are located in the Pyrenees, Alps, the south of the Haut-Rhin département, the Territoire de Belfort and a few communes in Doubs. A new zoning map comes into force on 1 May 2011, which significantly increases the rating for many areas. The major nuclear research facilities at Cadarache are located in a zone 4 area near the fault that caused the 1909 Lambesc earthquake, while the Marcoule research centre and the nuclear power plants at Tricastin, Cruas, Saint-Alban, Bugey and Fessenheim (near the fault that caused the 1356 Basel earthquake) are all within zone 3. A further 6 plants lie within zone 2.
The current process for evaluating the seismic hazard for a nuclear plant is set out in Règle Fondamentale de Sûreté (Fundamental Safety Rule) RFS 2001-01, published by the Institute for Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety, which uses more detailed seismotectonic zones. RFS 2001-01 replaced RFS I.2.c, published in 1981, however it has been criticised for continuing to require a deterministic assessment (rather than a probabilistic approach) that relies primarily on the strongest 'historically known' earthquake near a site. This leads to a number of problems including the short period (in geological timescales) for which there are records, the difficulty of assessing the characteristics of earthquakes that occurred prior to the use of seismometers, the difficulty of identifying the existence of all earthquakes that pre-date the historic record, and ultimately the reliance on one single earthquake scenario. Other criticisms include the use of intensity in the evaluation method, rather than spectral acceleration, which is commonly used elsewhere.
Following the 2011 Fukushima I nuclear accidents, an OpinionWay poll at the end of March found that 57% of the French population were opposed to nuclear energy in France. A TNS-Sofres poll in the days following the accident found 55% in favour of nuclear power. In 2006, BBC / GlobeScan poll found 57% of the French opposed to nuclear energy.
In May 2001, an Ipsos poll found that nearly 70% of the population had a 'good opinion' of nuclear power, however 56% also preferred not to live near a nuclear plant and the same proportion thought that a 'Chernobyl-like accident' could occur in France. The same Ipsos poll revealed that 50% thought that nuclear power was the best way of solving the problem of the greenhouse effect, while 88% thought this was a major reason for continuing to use nuclear power.
Historically the position has generally been favourable, with around two-thirds of the population strongly supporting nuclear power, while the Gaullists, the Socialist Party and the Communist Party were also all in favour.
When the Civaux Nuclear Power Plant was being constructed in 1997, it was claimed to be welcomed by the local community:
In France, unlike in America, nuclear energy is accepted, even popular. Everybody I spoke to in Civaux loves the fact their region was chosen. The nuclear plant has brought jobs and prosperity to the area. Nobody I spoke to, nobody, expressed any fear.
A variety of reasons were cited for the popular support; a sense of national independence and reduced reliance on foreign oil, reduction of greenhouse gases, and a cultural interest in large technological projects (like the TGV, [whose high-speed lines are powered by these plants] and Concorde).
In the 1970s, an anti-nuclear movement in France, consisting of citizens' groups and political action committees, emerged. Between 1975 and 1977, some 175,000 people protested against nuclear power in ten demonstrations.
In January 2004, up to 15,000 anti-nuclear protesters marched in Paris against a new generation of nuclear reactors, the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR). On 17 March 2007, simultaneous protests, organised by Sortir du nucléaire, were staged in 5 French towns to protest against the construction of EPR plants.
After Japan's 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, thousands staged anti-nuclear protests around France, demanding reactors be closed. Protesters' demands were focused on getting France to shut its oldest nuclear power station at Fessenheim. Many people also protested at the Cattenom nuclear plant, France's second most powerful.
In November 2011, thousands of anti-nuclear protesters delayed a train carrying radioactive waste from France to Germany. Many clashes and obstructions made the journey the slowest one since the annual shipments of radioactive waste began in 1995. Also in November 2011, a French court fined nuclear power giant Électricité de France €1.5m and jailed two senior employees for spying on Greenpeace, including hacking into Greenpeace's computer systems. Greenpeace was awarded €500,000 in damages.
On the first anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, organisers of French anti-nuclear demonstrations claim 60,000 supporters formed a human chain 230 kilometres long, stretching from Lyon to Avignon. Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann expects anti-nuclear petition drives to start in at least six European Union countries in 2012 with the goal of having the EU abandon nuclear power.
In March 2014, police arrested 57 Greenpeace protesters who used a truck to break through security barriers and enter the Fessenheim nuclear in eastern France. The activists hung antinuclear banners, but France's nuclear safety authority said that the plant's security had not been compromised. Although President Hollande promised to close Fessenheim by 2016, and Greenpeace continues to demand immediate closure, Fessenheim continues to operate without problems.
In 2007, Areva NC claimed that, due to their reliance on nuclear power, France's carbon emissions per kWh are less than 1/10 that of Germany and the UK, and 1/13 that of Denmark, which has no nuclear plants. Its emissions of nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide have been reduced by 70% over 20 years, even though the total power output has tripled in that time.
If done without environmental or health over-sight, conventional mining for uranium can produce large amounts of mining tailings and contaminated water but as of 2010, about half of the world's uranium supply is increasingly generated from In situ recovery (ISR) technology, that does not require physical mining in the conventional sense and if responsibly operated is considerably cleaner. Another alternative to ISR is remote controlled underground mining, the French owned Areva Resources Canada owns a large stake in the Canadian McArthur River uranium mine, the world's highest grade and largest uranium mine by output, the underground remote operation of mining vehicles in this mine, is designed to keep personnel exposure to rock particulates and radon gas etc. low. The mine is a frequent winner of the John T. Ryan National Safety Trophy award in Canada, which is bestowed upon the safest mine in the country every year.
According to the French embassy to the US, fission-electricity "helps to reduce French greenhouse gas emissions by avoiding the release of 31 billions tonnes of carbon dioxide (contrary to coal or gas generation) and making France the less carbon emitting country within the OECD". It further notes that, due to recycling of spent nuclear fuel, French fission-electric stations, produce 10 g/year/inhabitant of "nuclear waste", which is primarily fission products and other safety concerning solid decaying radioactive isotopes.
French environmentalist Bruno Comby started the group Environmentalists For Nuclear Energy in 1996, and said in 2005, "If well-managed, nuclear energy is very clean, does not create polluting gases in the atmosphere, produces very little waste and does not contribute to the greenhouse effect".
Unlike its neighboring countries of Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom, France does not rely very much on fossil fuels and biomass for electricity or home heating thanks to an abundance of cheap nuclear power. Taken as a whole, the country therefore has superior air quality and lower pollution related deaths. Air pollution in France largely comes from cars and a minority is carried by the wind from Germany. Each year, the coal fired power stations in Germany are the cause of a calculated 1,860 premature domestic deaths and approximately 2,500 deaths abroad.
Outdoor fossil fuel and biomass pollution, from particulate matter alone, kill more people than is popularly known, approximately 1 million people every year according to the World Health Organization. The level of atmospheric particulate matter, small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs –is 13 micrograms per cubic metre in France, cleaner than the air in Germany, where the particulate air pollution is higher at 16 micrograms per cubic metre.
The heavy investment in nuclear power energy requires electricity export when French electricity demand is low or low-price dumping in the French market, encouraging the use of electricity for space heating and water heating. However, as the adoption of electric cars, such as the French Renault Fluence Z.E., over internal combustion engine vehicles increases, reducing fossil fuel dependence, France's comparatively cheap peak and off peak electricity prices could act as a strong customer incentive that may spur the speed of the adoption of electric vehicles, essentially turning the current perceived glut of relatively cheap fission-electricity into an asset, as demand for electric vehicle recharging stations becomes more and more commonplace.
Due to France's very low-carbon power electricity grid, the carbon dioxide emissions from charging an electric car from the French electricity grid are 12 g per km traveled. This compares favourably to the direct emissions of one of the most successful hybrid electric vehicles, the Toyota Prius, which produces carbon dioxide emissions at the higher rate of 105 g per km traveled.
The nuclear fusion project ITER is constructing the world's largest and most advanced experimental tokamak nuclear fusion reactor in the south of France. A collaboration between the European Union (EU), India, Japan, China, Russia, South Korea and the United States, the project aims to make a transition from experimental studies of plasma physics to electricity-producing fusion power plants. In 2005, Greenpeace International issued a press statement criticizing government funding of the ITER, believing the money should have been diverted to renewable energy sources and claiming that fusion energy would result in nuclear waste and nuclear weapons proliferation issues. A French association including about 700 anti-nuclear groups, Sortir du nucléaire (Get Out of Nuclear Energy), claimed that ITER was a hazard because scientists did not yet know how to manipulate the high-energy deuterium and tritium hydrogen isotopes used in the fusion process. According to most anti-nuclear groups, nuclear fusion power "remains a distant dream". The World Nuclear Association says that fusion "presents so far insurmountable scientific and engineering challenges". Construction of the ITER facility began in 2007, but the project has run into many delays and budget overruns. The facility is now not expected to begin operations until the year 2027 – 11 years after initially anticipated.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Nuclear power in France.|
- List of nuclear reactors – France
- Politics of France
- Nuclear energy policy
- Anti-nuclear movement in France
- Death of Sebastien Briat
- World Nuclear Industry Status Report
- "PRIS – Country Details". pris.iaea.org. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
- "Nuclear share figures, 2009-2019". World Nuclear Association. May 2020. Retrieved 27 June 2020.
- Kidd, Steve (22 June 2009). "Nuclear in France – what did they get right?". Nuclear Engineering International. Archived from the original on 11 May 2010.
- [c]. "Shareholding policy". Électricité de France. 31 December 2007
- "France still a net exporter" (PDF). Uk.reuters.com. 22 January 2013. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
- "Germany powers France in cold despite nuclear u-turn". Reuters. 14 February 2012. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
- Stephanie Cooke (2009). In Mortal Hands: A Cautionary History of the Nuclear Age, Black Inc., p. 359.
- Notice on France on Global Security (in English)
- Sahara on the website of the French Minister of Defence (in French)
- Electricité de France Company History Electricité de France, accessed 11 April 2011
- World Nuclear Association (August 2007). "Nuclear Power in France". Retrieved 25 August 2007.
- Nuclear Reaction. Frontline. 24 April 1997.
Jean-Pierre CHAUSAUDE, Electricité de France: In France we have no oil, no gas, no coal, no choice. And for the French people, it was very positive to develop national energy with nuclear energy.
- Valérie Lehmann; Valérie Colomb; Bernard Motulsky (2013). Communication et grands projets: les nouveaux défis. PUQ. p. 141. ISBN 9782760536777.
En France, on a toutes sortes de choses, on a la meilleure cuisine du monde, une industrie puissante, la pétanque, une histoire glorieuse, on a aussi une situation géographique privilégiée, la Tour Eiffel et la pêche à la ligne, oui en France on a tout ça et bien plus encore, pourtant une chose nous manque, une chose essentielle, le pétrole, le pétrole nous sommes obligés de l’acheter à d’autres, cher, trop cher. En France, on n’a pas de pétrole, mais on a des idées.
- Les physiciens dans le mouvement antinucléaire: entre science, expertise et politique Cahiers d'histoire, published 2007, accessed 11 April 2011
- Nelkin, Dorothy and Michael Pollak, "Ideology as Strategy: The Discourse of the Anti-Nuclear Movement in France and Germany" Science, Technology, & Human Values, Vol. 5, No. 30 (Winter, 1980), p. 3.
- Pierre Papon (September 1979). "Why France has had no public nuclear debate".
- Palfreman, Jon (1997). "Why the French Like Nuclear Energy". Frontline. Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved 25 August 2007.
- Patel, Tara (1 December 2011). "Atomic Spat Rocks French Election as Sarkozy Rival Backs Halts". Bloomberg.
- "France to extend life of nuclear plants – minister". Reuters. 12 February 2012. Retrieved 10 March 2012.
- The costs of the nuclear power sector – Summary in English (PDF) (Report). Cour des Comptes. January 2012. Retrieved 11 March 2012.[permanent dead link]
- Broomby, Rob (11 January 2014). "France struggles to cut down on nuclear power". BBC News. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
- Sokolski, Henry (28 November 2011). "Nuclear Power Goes Rogue". Newsweek. Archived from the original on 18 December 2012. Retrieved 4 December 2011.
- "Présidentielle : Hollande confirme sa volonté de fermer Fessenheim". France Soir. 2 May 2012. Retrieved 8 May 2012.
- Jolly, David (7 May 2015). "France Went All Out for Nuclear Energy". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
- Jolly, David; Reed, Stanley (7 May 2015). "French Nuclear Dynamo Stalls". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
New plants that were meant to showcase the industry’s most advanced technology are years behind schedule and billions of euros over budget.
- Nuclear Power Reactors in the World. IAEA. 11 August 2020. p. 30. ISBN 978-92-0-102719-1..
- "La centrale nucléaire de Fessenheim est définitivement débranchée du réseau électrique national". actu.orange.fr (in French). BFM TV. 2019. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
- "French energy transition bill adopted – World Nuclear News".
- "France postpones target for cutting nuclear share of power production". Reuters. 7 November 2017.
- Andrew Ward (28 October 2016). "French nuclear outages threaten higher UK power bills". Financial Times. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
- John Large (26 September 2016). Irregularities and Anomalies Relating to the Forged Components of Le Creusot Forge (PDF). Large Associates (Report). Greenpeace France. Retrieved 27 October 2016.
- Lee Buchsbaum (1 November 2016). "France's Nuclear Storm: Many Power Plants Down Due to Quality Concerns". POWER. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
- Bate Felix, Geert De Clercq (8 November 2016). "France could face winter power cuts, hit by nuclear dependence". Reuters. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
- "France's nuclear-energy champion is in turmoil". The Economist. 3 December 2016. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
- Matthew Dalton; Inti Landauro; Rebecca Smith (13 December 2016). "Coverup at French Nuclear Supplier Sparks Global Review". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
- "Macron clarifies French energy plans". World Nuclear News. 27 November 2018. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
- "Viewpoint: A long future for France's nuclear fleet?". World Nuclear News. 23 April 2019. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
- "France to decide on new nuclear build after 2022". Nuclear Engineering International. 14 January 2020. Retrieved 19 February 2020.
- "Nuclear Waste". library.thinkquest.org. Archived from the original on 3 October 2011.
- Lomazzi, Marc (13 August 2007). "Nucléaire: les dessous de l'accord entre la France et la Libye". Le Parisien (in French).[dead link]
- Stefan Ambec; Claude Crampes (16 January 2019). "Regulated Access to Incumbent Nuclear Electricity". Florence School of Regulation, European University Institute. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
- "EDF terminates nuclear electricity supply contracts". World Nuclear News. 3 June 2020. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
- Fabrice Fages; Myria Saarinen (2019). "France". In David L Schwartz (ed.). The Energy Regulation and Markets Review. Law Business Research. ISBN 978-1-83862-032-5. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
- "Energy price statistics". Eurostat. Retrieved 20 May 2016.
- [g]https://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/03/us-edf-nuclear-flamanville-idUSBRE8B214620121203 Retrieved 31 March 2013.
- Ed Crooks (14 November 2011). "EDF searches for reactor suppliers". Financial Times. Retrieved 16 January 2012.
- Marie-Caroline Lopez (13 November 2011). "FEn pleine polémique sur Flamanville, EDF se prépare à abandonner l'EPR". La Tribune.
- "EDF Announces More Delays, Cost Overruns for Flamanville 3 Reactor". POWER Magazine. 25 July 2018. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
- "EDF to buy majority of Areva NP". Nuclear Engineering International. 31 July 2015. Retrieved 20 May 2016.
- Christoph Steitz, Barbara Lewis (16 February 2016). "EU short of 118 billion euros in nuclear decommissioning funds". Reuters. Retrieved 17 February 2016.
- "Minister calls for EDF to revive French nuclear industry". World Nuclear News. 29 October 2019. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
- "France plans nuclear price adjustment". Nuclear Engineering International. 21 January 2020. Retrieved 19 February 2020.
- Boselli, Muriel (4 March 2020). "France mulls "insufficient" EUR 42-48 nuclear price corridor". Montel. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
- "France cancels ASTRID fast reactor project". Nuclear Engineering International. Global Trade Media. 2 September 2019. Retrieved 28 December 2019.
- Lewis, Paul (24 January 1981). "France Set to Build Reactors". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 April 2017.
- "Framatome SA History". International Directory of Company Histories. FundingUniverse. 1998. Retrieved 21 April 2017.
- "Westinghouse sells French nuclear stake". Chemical & Engineering News. 54 (2): 5. 1976. doi:10.1021/cen-v054n002.p005.
Westinghouse will continue to receive license royalties at present rates on the existing and planned nuclear reactors designed around its pressurized-water reactor system.
- "Cinquième rapport national" (PDF). French Nuclear Safety Authority. July 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
- "Nuclear Power in China". www.world-nuclear.org. World Nuclear Association. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
- "Facts about Olkiluoto 3 financing". olkiluoto.info. Retrieved 10 July 2009.
- "Flamanville 3 delayed until 2022". Nuclear Engineering International. Global Trade Media. 30 July 2019. Retrieved 28 December 2019.
- Michael Stothard (18 November 2014). "EDF in fresh delay for flagship nuclear plant". Financial Times. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
- "EDF eyes development of new, smaller reactors – papers". Reuters. 21 March 2013. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
- Geert De Clercq (23 September 2015). "Only China wants to invest in Britain's new££2bn Hinkley Point nuclear plant because no one else thinks it will work, EDF admits". The Independent. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
- "EDF plans two new nuclear reactors in France by 2030-document". Reuters. 21 January 2016. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
- "UPDATE 1-Separate unit for EDF nuclear arm has been discussed, says minister Hulot". Reuters. 22 January 2018. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
- Robin Pagnamenta (3 July 2009). "France imports UK electricity as plants shut". The Times. London. Retrieved 10 July 2009.
- "Uranium 2016: Resources, Production and Demand" (PDF). Nuclear Energy Agency. March 2017 . Retrieved 27 February 2019.
- Mycle Schneider (11 April 2012). "Nuclear power post-Fukushima: Maybe France no exception after all". Kyodo News. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- "France Gets X Percent of its Energy from Nuclear Plants (Energy Priorities Archives)". Energypriorities.com. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
- "France – U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)". Eia.gov. 30 May 2013. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
- Benjamin K. Sovacool. A Critical Evaluation of Nuclear Power and Renewable Electricity in Asia, Journal of Contemporary Asia, Vol. 40, No. 3, August 2010, pp. 393–400.
- Benjamin K. Sovacool (2009). The Accidental Century – Prominent Energy Accidents in the Last 100 Years Archived 21 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine
- "INES – The International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale" (PDF). International Atomic Energy Agency. 1 August 2008. p. 2. Retrieved 13 March 2011.
- Les Echos – 18/03/11 – A Saint-Laurent, EDF a renoncé à construire une digue contre les inondations Les Echos, published 2011-03-18, accessed 30 March 2011
- Angelique Chrisafis (10 July 2008). "River use banned after French uranium leak". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 10 July 2008.
- "France bans water consumption over nuclear leak". 9 July 2008. Archived from the original on 18 July 2008. Retrieved 24 July 2008.
- Samuel, Henry (24 July 2008). "French nuclear leak prompts urgent security review". London: Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 1 November 2009.
- "EDF repairs pumping stations at 20 power reactors". Nuclear Engineering International. 17 October 2017. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
- "Get tough on nuclear safety". Nature. 481 (7380): 113. 12 January 2012. Bibcode:2012Natur.481Q.113.. doi:10.1038/481113a. PMID 22237067.
- Declan Butler (11 January 2012). "France 'imagines the unimaginable'". Nature. 481 (7380): 121–122. Bibcode:2012Natur.481..121B. doi:10.1038/481121a. PMID 22237081.
- The great lesson France has to learn from Fukushima Archived 29 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine Deciphering Fukushima, published 2011-03-08, accessed 8 May 2012
- Nuclear Waste – Interview with Raymond et Monique Sené Archived 5 November 2005 at the Wayback Machine, Académie de Grenoble, published 1997, accessed 8 May 2012
- Zonage sismique de la France Le Plan Séisme, accessed 13 April 2011
- Quatre centrales sur une zone sismique Les quatre éléments published 2011-03-15, accessed 13 April 2011
- Evaluation de l’aléa sismique – La réglementation applicable aux sites nucléaires français Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire, accessed 13 April 2011
- Centrale Nucléaire de Fessenheim : appréciation du risque sismique RÉSONANCE Ingénieurs-Conseils SA, published 2007-09-05, accessed 30 March 2011
- Majority of French want to drop nuclear energy-poll Reuters, published 2011-04-13, accessed 13 April 2011
- "BBC World Service Poll". Archived from the original on 24 September 2010. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
- "Nuclear Notes from France Nº70". Embassy of France. 4 October 2001. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 25 August 2007.
- Rene de Preneuf. "Nuclear Power in France – Why does it Work?". Archived from the original on 13 August 2007. Retrieved 25 August 2007.
- Herbert P. Kitschelt. Political Opportunity and Political Protest: Anti-Nuclear Movements in Four Democracies British Journal of Political Science, Vol. 16, 1984, p. 71.
- Thousands march in Paris anti-nuclear protest ABC News, 18 January 2004.
- "French protests over EPR". Nuclear Engineering International. 3 April 2007. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 10 April 2007.
- "France hit by anti-nuclear protests". Evening Echo. 3 April 2007. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 10 April 2007.
- Arnaud Bouvier (25 April 2011). "Thousands in France mark Chernobyl with protests". AFP.
- "Thousands of Protesters Obstruct Nuclear Waste Transport". Spiegel Online. 28 November 2011.
- Richard Black (10 November 2011). "EDF fined for spying on Greenpeace nuclear campaign". BBC. Retrieved 11 November 2011.
- "Anti-nuclear demos across Europe on Fukushima anniversary". Euronews. 11 March 2011.
- "Austria expects EU anti-nuclear campaign this year". Reuters. 12 March 2012.
- "France: Greenpeace Activists Arrested in Break-In". The New York Times. 18 March 2014.
- "Nuclear energy and the green house effect". AREVA NC. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 25 August 2007.
- "Uranium: How is it Mined?". New Mexico Bureau of Geology & Mineral Resources.
- "The 10 biggest uranium mines in the world". 3 November 2013.
- Mining the high grade McArthur River uranium deposit – International.IAEA. Jamieson
- "SAFETY WINNER: Cameco awarded national Ryan safety award". Canadian Mining Journal. 16 May 2010.
- "Canadian Safety Reporter May 31, 2010 Mining industry now a 'safety leader'".
- "Nuclear Energy in France". France in the United States / Embassy of France in Washington, D.C.
- "France's nuclear response to Kyoto". BBC. 18 February 2005. Retrieved 25 August 2007.
- real-time air quality map
- Air pollution – State and impacts (France)
- Premature deaths attributable to air pollution
- "Damage costs by country". www.eea.europa.eu.
- Germany’s Nuclear Cutback Is Darkening European Skies | OilPrice.com
- Air pollution – State and impacts (France)
- Report: Germany suffers more coal-linked deaths than rest of EU – EURACTIV.com
- "WHO | Air quality and health". Who.int. 23 August 2013. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
- "OECD Better Life Index". OECD Better Life Index. 24 May 2013. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
- "OECD Better Life Index". OECD Better Life Index. 24 May 2013. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
- "PNNL: News – Mileage from megawatts". pnl.gov. 11 December 2006. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 16 June 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Holland, Andrew. "The Better Place Model for Electric Vehicles". Consumerenergyreport.com. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
- http://www.honestjohn.co.uk/news/green-motoring/2010-09/renault-ze Renault to sell electric cars for the same price as diesels
- Electric car emissions per country
- "Nuclear fusion reactor project in France: an expensive and senseless nuclear stupidity". Greenpeace.org. Greenpeace International. Archived from the original on 8 December 2009. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
- France Wins Nuclear Fusion Plant|Germany|Deutsche Welle|28 June 2005
- Jim Green (2012). "New Reactor Types – pebble bed, thorium, plutonium, fusion". Friends of the Earth.
- World Nuclear Association (2005). "Nuclear Fusion Power".
- W Wayt Gibbs (30 December 2013). "Triple-threat method sparks hope for fusion". Nature.
- Gabrielle Hecht, includes afterword by Hecht, foreword by Michel Callon, The Radiance of France: Nuclear Power and National Identity after World War II (Inside Technology series), The MIT Press, New Edition (31 July 2009), trade paperback, 496 pages, ISBN 978-0262582810.
|Wikinews has related news:|
- French Nuclear Power Program by the World Nuclear Association
- The reality of France's aggressive nuclear power push in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
- Interview with 1984 U.S. Ambassador to France from the Dean Peter Krogh Foreign Affairs Digital Archives
- The World Nuclear Industry Status Reports website
- Radioactivity.eu.com – Nuclear Energie in France