- Deep-rooted problems with France’s nuclear-heavy energy
strategy are raising serious questions about its winter preparedness.
- A long-standing source of national pride, France generates roughly 70% of its electricity from a nuclear fleet of 56 reactors, all operated by state-owned utility EDF.
- In recent months, however, more than half of EDF’s nuclear reactors have been shut down for corrosion problems, maintenance and technical issues.
However, more than half of EDF’s nuclear reactors have been shut down for corrosion problems, maintenance and technical issues in recent months, thanks in part to extreme heat waves and repair delays from the Covid pandemic. The outages have resulted in French power output falling to a near 30-year low just as the European Union faces its worst energy crisis in decades.
“I find the France nuclear relationship really interesting because it just bluntly shows you all of the pros and cons of nuclear,” Norbert Ruecker, head of economics and next generation research at Julius Baer, told CNBC via telephone.
“Yes, it’s low carbon but it’s not economic. You need to nationalize EDF to make it happen. Yes, it offers baseload but wait a second, sometimes a whole plant disappears for weeks and months, so that baseload promise is not really there,” Ruecker said.
French power prices climbed to a string of all-time highs this summer, peaking at an eyewatering level of around 1,100 euros ($1,073) per megawatt hour in late August. Analysts fear the country may struggle to produce enough nuclear energy to support both its own needs and those of its neighbors in the coming months.
Underlining the structural problems in the country’s nuclear fleet, France not only lost its position as Europe’s biggest exporter of electricity this year but also, remarkably, actually imported more power than it exported.
To compensate, France imported expensive electricity from U.K., Germany, Spain and elsewhere.
How low carbon is that amount of concrete? I guess over the course of 40 to 60 years it is better than coal or NG.
Update on the thread. Nuclear power in France limited by corrosion problems, under investment, and shortage of trained welders etc. As a result routine maintenance delayed and downtime increased.
Back in early September, French nuclear plants were producing around 23 gigawatts (GW) of electricity. Currently, the nuclear plants are generating over 41 GW. Several plants have returned to service to cope with the colder winter weather.
With a total nuclear capacity of 61.3 GW, the nuclear plants are producing 67% of their maximum. There are still some plants that are scheduled to start up in the coming weeks, but France’s electric grid looks much better now than earlier this autumn.
As can be seen in the following link, which shows output of all of France’s power plants, nuclear makes up about 60% of the total mix, and is by far the largest contributor. (Note the amount of solar power produced for this time of year. The output from wind power is also light.)
Article from Reuters…
Today France is still importing between 5,000 to 10,000 megawatts from it neighbors. This situation has now been going on for over a year - it is total embarrassment for France utility EDF and the French government.
France can not even even reach 60% nuclear. They are generating 41,000 MW out of their 61,000 MW capacity. That means their nuclear plants are down 25%.
What if 20 of the 95 USA nuclear power plants were offline. Our utilities would also be embarrassed and we would be having blackouts. France is lucky to have good neighbors that will to ship power to them.
Pete puts lipstick on a pig. Electricity prices in France are much greater than in Germany!
In October 2022, the average wholesale electricity price in France stood at around 178.9 euros per megawatt-hour, a slight increase compared to the same month a year prior. In the past year, electricity prices in France soared … Just two months earlier the prices reached 500 euros per megawatt-hour.
Germany: monthly electricity prices 2022 | Statista.
In October 2022, the average wholesale electricity price in Germany stood at 157.78 euros per megawatt-hour, an increase of roughly 13 percent when compared to the price recorded a year prior. Just two months earlier, figures reached a record high, at over 469 euros per megawatt-hour.