French energy minister calls for new generation of nuclear reactors

January 13, 2015 by Marie Heuclin
Technicians works at the construction site of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor on November 21, 2014 in Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, southern France

France should build a new generation of nuclear reactors to replace its ageing power stations that provide a majority of the country's electricity, the energy and environment minister said Tuesday.

Despite French firms being world leaders in , the country's Socialist government has been keen on ending France's status as the world's most nuclear-dependent country.

The minister, Segolene Royal, made the comments in the trade magazine Usine Nouvelle, giving the first signal the government will keep nuclear a major component in France's energy production despite reducing it in favour of renewables.

"In the building of a carbon-free economy, nuclear is clearly an asset" and its role in the mix of various energy production methods needs to be evaluated in an "intelligent manner", said Royal.

"We should plan for the construction of a new generation of reactors to take the place of the old power stations which cannot be renovated," she added.

While Royal presented this in the interests of safety, the call for the investment in a of reactors is a development in that it signals the government sees nuclear continuing to play a role after the current reactors reach the end of their service life.

It is also a development that will likely be welcomed by French companies EDF and Areva, which have suffered in recent years as interest in cooled following the 2011 Fukushima catastrophe in Japan.

President Francois Hollande promised a makeover in France's energy policy during his 2012 election campaign, and lawmakers in the lower house of parliament voted last year to reduce reliance on nuclear from more than 75 percent to 50 percent within a decade.

That bill, which must now be considered by the Senate, would cap production of electricity from nuclear reactors at 63.2 gigawatts, meaning the construction of any new power plant would require putting an old plant into retirement.

France, which is the number two country globally in terms of nuclear , has 58 reactors located in 19 .

"It is important to build new reactors because France needs to have a technological lead, even more so in that the global market for renovation is enormous," said Valerie Faudon, the head of the French Nuclear Energy Society.

But environmentalists expressed concern about Royal's announcement.

"Rather than launch the construction of new which are extremely costly to build and generate electricity at an expensive price per kilowatt hour using imported uranium, it would be better to move into renewable energies," said Denis Baupin, a member of ecologist group in the French parliament.

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16 comments

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gkam
2.1 / 5 (7) Jan 13, 2015
The French nuclear industry is not regulated like ours, it has different structure, and that structure is insular, not connected to the outside very well. This leads to decisions made by those without appropriate experience. It is like Wall Street "regulating" itself through the rotating door.
WillieWard
3.7 / 5 (6) Jan 14, 2015
"In terms of lives lost per unit of energy generated, analysis has determined that nuclear power has caused less fatalities per unit of energy generated than the other major sources of energy generation." Including solar and wind.
http://en.wikiped...ar_power
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (4) Jan 14, 2015
"In terms of lives lost per unit of energy generated, analysis has determined that nuclear power has caused less fatalities per unit of energy generated than the other major sources of energy generation."

Since when did 'live lost per unit of energy" become a figure of merit? That makes no sense whatsoever.
GRLCowan
not rated yet Jan 14, 2015
Someone from the nuke business remarks, "Sego is phony as hell. Trust her at your own risk".

Still, there are necks and millstones. Perhaps she has begun feeling some wish to become ethical.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (4) Jan 14, 2015
"In terms of lives lost per unit of energy generated, analysis has determined that nuclear power has caused less fatalities per unit of energy generated than the other major sources of energy generation."

Since when did 'live lost per unit of energy" become a figure of merit? That makes no sense whatsoever.
Because that's your primary objection to nuclear power isn't it? If it is the least dangerous of all the options then you should have no objection to it.
gkam
1.7 / 5 (6) Jan 14, 2015
How many nukers went to Fukushima? I'll bet none of the sideliners have even been in a nuke plant, let alone understood how vulnerable they are to killing us.
gkam
1.7 / 5 (6) Jan 14, 2015
Before she buys more nukes, perhaps this lady would tell us the condition and disposition of the three blobs of Corium at Fukushima, the material they said was impossible to have from a nuke.
gkam
2.6 / 5 (5) Jan 14, 2015
For those who really do think nuclear power is a god idea, you can buy stock in Georgia Power, now building the two units which will dog them forever. It might not ruin them economically, because our crooked Congressmen gave them a multi-billion-dollar bailout if it fails, courtesy of YOU, Mister Taxpayer!

Want to discuss subsidies??
TechnoCreed
4.8 / 5 (4) Jan 14, 2015
I do not see the pertinence in the choice to use the ITER construction site to illustrate this article. ITER will never be connected to the power grid; it is a thermonuclear experiment.
kochevnik
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 14, 2015
"In terms of lives lost per unit of energy generated, analysis has determined that nuclear power has caused less fatalities per unit of energy generated than the other major sources of energy generation." Including solar and wind.
http://en.wikiped...ar_power
You're hiding behind semantics and biased bean counting. For example guns have never killed anyone

Only bullets do
gkam
1.8 / 5 (5) Jan 14, 2015
No kove, bullets do not, it is the SCARED or foolish or hateful goober holding the killing device who kills.
SoylentGrin
4 / 5 (1) Jan 14, 2015
I'm hoping that the Spheromak and/or Lockheed Martin's breakthrough will put fission out of business anyway.

http://phys.org/n...per.html
gkam
1.8 / 5 (5) Jan 14, 2015
I think we will not prove fusion practical until we have significant market penetration of renewables. Despite the head start for fusion, especially in funding, it seems other ways are more appropriate for many reasons.

How about systems we do not need a Nuclear Priesthood to run for us? How about systems we can fix ourselves? How about systems that let us participate in generation as well as consumption? How about systems supported from distributed sources inside?

How about systems owned by The People? How about systems which allow us to choose independence or mutual support in networks and microgrids?
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (4) Jan 14, 2015
I think we will not prove fusion practical until we have significant market penetration of renewables. Despite the head start for fusion, especially in funding, it seems other ways are more appropriate for many reasons.

How about systems we do not need a Nuclear Priesthood to run for us? How about systems we can fix ourselves? How about systems that let us participate in generation as well as consumption? How about systems supported from distributed sources inside?

How about systems owned by The People? How about systems which allow us to choose independence or mutual support in networks and microgrids?
How about more empty slogans by brainless sloganeers? How about buzzwords? Or die-ins maybe? Yeah die-ins. They always seemed to work in the past-
gkam
1.7 / 5 (6) Jan 14, 2015
The development of alternative energy is the way the rest of Europe is going. I think this French notice is a result of their insular culture of the regulators of the nuclear industry.

It is promoted by the police state necessary to protect it, and the need for secrecy, which assumes all the rest of us are enemies. We do not need more divisiveness.
gkam
1.8 / 5 (5) Jan 14, 2015
Is Eikka around? I'd like to hear his/her take on the coming divide in energy development choices in Europe. In the rest of the world, it is full speed ahead for nukes, I'm afraid.

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