Thursday, November 17, 2011

French nuclear fleet could be sunk by Socialists

An alliance with Green parties could shut down 24 reactors by 2025

Francois Hollande
The future of the 58 nuclear reactors in the French fleet of power stations may be decided in the election next May.  According the wire service reports, opposition parties composed of Socialists and Greens, if elected, would follow Germany's example and begin a massive phase out of nuclear power in France.

The results could be catastrophic for the French economy. France gets 75% of its electricity from nuclear energy.  A 50% cut in the number of operating reactors could trigger a massive wave of unemployment.

The cost of replacement power from liquefied natural gas, wind, and solar power could transform the balance sheet of businesses forcing them to swap out payroll, and jobs, to pay rapidly rising electric bills.

French industry minister Eric Besson told the Bloomberg wire service on Nov 16, "It is an unbelievable and absolute regression."  

The likelihood that Francois Hollande, the Socialist candidate endorsed by the Greens, will win the election next is not a sure thing, but his polling data suggests a strong possibility of a win.  A survey of French voters carried out last week shows him leading current French President Nicolas Sarkozy by 53% to 34% with Sarkozy having gained 3 points, the margin of error, in the past week as well.

Meeting of minds not over yet

Eva Joly
The Socialists are not 100% aligned with the Greens on the nuclear plan. The Greens want to shut down the construction work on the new 1,650 MW Areva EPR at Flamanville.

Eva Joly, a Green Party spokesperson, told wire services Nov 16 the EPR "is dangerous and and industrial and financial catastrophe."

However, Socialist spokesman Manual Valls countered that "It is out of the question to stop construction" of the EPR.  And Hollande said in a TV inerview last week he agrees the reactor should be completed and enter revenue service.

EDF is building the reactor, but has run into problems.  It is over budget and behind schedule.  French President Sarkozy announced another EPR new build for Penly last year, but work has not started on that reactor.

Another area where the Socialists and Greens disagree is on he recycling of spent nuclear fuel. Areva produces MOX fuel at La Hague for about 30 reactors woldwide. 

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Martin said...

It seems that the Greens are not serious about climate change. Now the Germans are thinking about fossil fuel plants being built at nuclear reactor sites. Check out this article

SteveK9 said...

The country that is the best example in the world of the benefits of nuclear power wants to shut them down. This is depressing. The government and utilities and other leaders need to get out front and start explaining the reality that France enjoys the cleanest air and lowest electricity prices in Europe for a reason - nuclear power. With electric cars on the horizon, France is set to develop one of the lowest CO2 producing economies in the world.

Fifi said...

I wouldn't worry too much about that.

It looks like the Socialist Party is trying to visit on the Greens what it inflicted with great success on the Communist Party in the 80s, an embrace and strangle strategy.

Far more preoccupying, the current euro-bond crisis which may force the France government to sell hard assets, with, in particular, a renewed push to fully privatize Areva and EdF. And popular support/acceptance for nuclear power in France is largely predicated on the notion that nuclear power plants are run as a "public service", immune to short term profitability concerns. If Areva and EdF are sold to private owners, that support may evaporate pretty quickly.