Fessenheim closure confirmed for 2020

20 January 2020

Frances oldest operating reactors, Fessenheim 1 and 2 will be permanently shut on 22 February and in June, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has confirmed.

In September 2019, Secretary of State for Ecological and Solidarity Transition Emmanuelle Wargon announced both units would close by mid-2020. The following month EDF applied to the nuclear safety regulator for permission to close them.

Fessenheim comprises two 880MWe pressurised water reactors, which were commissioned in 1977 and 1978.

Former French president Francois Hollande pledged during a 2012 election campaign to close Fessenheim by the end of his five-year term. The closure was initially scheduled for late 2016 but has been delayed several times.

Hollande also pledged to limit the share of power generation in France to 50%, down from 75%, by 2025.

Current President Emmanuel Macron has promised to respect Hollande's target but said a reduction in nuclear generation must be at a pace which "protects sovereignty".

The draft energy and climate bill presented in May stipulates that France will delay the planned reduction in the nuclear share to 50% from 2025 to 2035.

Dismantling of Fessenheim is expected to take 20 years. The preparatory phase will last around five years. By year three (2025), all used fuel will have left the site for processing at La Hague. Decommissioning will then begin under the close supervision of the French nuclear safety authority (ASN).

The French government will compensate EDF for the early closure of Fessenheim.

It expects to pay about €400m over four years in initial compensation to EDF for expenses incurred by the shutdown. This including post-operational costs, taxes, as well as dismantling and staff redeployment costs.

EDF said subsequent payments would compensate for “any loss of earnings, such as income from future power generation, based on Fessenheim’s previous output figures, up until 2041."

The Fessenheim nuclear power station employs 850 EDF staff and around 350 permanent staff from service companies.

A Franco-German mixed economy company (SEM) is being set up to develop a new economic zone to replace the plant. Possible projects include a metal resource recycling centre proposed by EDF, as well as photovoltaic parks and infrastructure projects.



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