France to decide reactor closures next year

30 October 2017

France will decide by the end of 2018 how many nuclear reactors will close to meet a target of reducing dependence on nuclear energy, Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot told French daily Le Monde on 28 October.

France has undertaken to cut the share of nuclear in power generation from 75% to 50% by 2025. Hulot will reveal his "green deal" on energy transition in the first half of 2018, he told Le Monde. "To reduce the share of nuclear power to 50%, we will have to close a number of reactors," he said, adding that he would detail the exact figure under a multi-year plan at the end of 2018.

In July, Hulot noted that up to 17 of France's 58 reactors might need to close to meet the target, but his subsequent forecasts varied. He said he would take into account the need to avoid any electricity shortage during that transition, given France’s dependence on nuclear power. Last winter, there was a risk of power cuts as the electricity supply was strained by the closure of a third of the reactors for security checks.

On 27 October, power utility EDF reduced its nuclear power output forecast for 2017 and revised its profit target after postponing the restart of the Tricastin NPP by three weeks until the end of November. EDF set its total nuclear power output forecast to 383-387TWh down from an already revised target of 385-392TWh. EDF had revised the target in September after the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) ordered it to shut down Tricastin 1-4 (3.6GWe) after it found flaws in a canal dike bordering the plant. EDF said in the statement that work on strengthening the dike ordered by the ASN had been completed and was awaiting inspection by ASN and its technical arm, L'Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire. EDF said a team of about 40 workers from Vinci Construction, including 25 trucks, had been working from dawn to dusk on the dike, and estimated the cost of the work at around €3m ($3.48m).  

EDF said in a separate statement on 27 October that it had also postponed the restart of the 1300MWe Paluel 2 by two months to 15 April.  Paluel 2 went offline in May 2015 for its 10-year periodic overhaul. But in March 2016, during the maintenance work, its steam generator weighing more than 450t crashed on to the reactor floor during handling, causing extensive damage. The ASN recently authorised EDF to change the steam generator

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