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France’s Nuclear Shutdown Hits 50% of Reactors, Squeezing Supply

May 31, 2022

By Paul Homewood

 

 

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The halt of yet another nuclear unit in France means half of its reactors are now offline for maintenance, keeping power supplies tight in a country that is traditionally one of Europe’s biggest electricity exporters.

Twenty-eight reactors are offline as Electricite de France SA struggles with extended outages after corrosion issues were found at some sites, requiring lengthy checks and repairs. The extra works come on top of already scheduled halts for refueling and regular maintenance, and has brought French nuclear output to the lowest in more than decade for the time of year.

The nuclear fleet is crucial, and can supply more than two thirds of the country’s power, so the halts could potentially worsen Europe’s supply crisis. They’re also having a bigger impact on France’s electricity market than in Germany, which relies more on gas and coal to run plants. France’s daily power prices have averaged about 30% more than in its neighbor this year, and four times higher than in the same period in 2021. 

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https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-04-29/half-of-french-nuclear-fleet-is-shut-for-works-squeezing-supply

This is a reminder of just how old France’s nuclear reactors are. Out of the total nuclear capacity of 61 GW, only 9 GW is less than 30 years old. Just how much longer they can be patched together must be open to question.

Nuclear has still be supplying 62% of France’s electricity this month. France has plans to build six new reactors, but these will take at least a decade to come on stream, and will only replace a small part of the capacity likely to be shut down long before then.

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http://energodock.com/france/electricity-shares

34 Comments
  1. Malcolm permalink
    May 31, 2022 9:35 am

    “Out of the total nuclear capacity of 61 GW, only 9 GW is less than 30 years old”. That’s a pretty telling sentence right there Paul. No doubt they can install more windmills – it’s hardly ‘new tech’…..

    • May 31, 2022 4:59 pm

      The big problem with most of the French nuclear power stations is that they stole the design of the 3-loop plants from Westinghouse, without understanding the details behind the design. Hence they have always had problems with them.

  2. May 31, 2022 9:45 am

    ”They’re also having a bigger impact on France’s electricity market than in Germany, which relies more on gas and coal to run plants. France’s daily power prices have averaged about 30% more than in its neighbor this year, and four times higher than in the same period in 2021.” This is long term contracts on the European Power market. It just reflects the fact that France does not have the usual export potential. It does not relate to internal power retail prices. Which continue to be substantially ( 40%) lower than those in Germany.
    Not a good Bloomberg article.

  3. George Herraghty permalink
    May 31, 2022 10:03 am

    And then the wind stopped.

    • Coeur de Lion permalink
      May 31, 2022 8:58 pm

      Yes, isobars tell us v little wind in France or UK until mebbe midday Friday (4 days) with any luck

  4. May 31, 2022 10:45 am

    Surely the French can simply buy some of the operational reactors that the Germans are prematurely shutting down?

    FAOD: /sarc

  5. Ian Magness permalink
    May 31, 2022 11:18 am

    I wonder the degree to which our masters in Westminster, when committing to an unreliables based power generation regime, and in the full knowledge that this would, sooner or later, lead to major UK power shortfalls, factored in the potential non-availability of electricity from nuclear-sourced French interconnector capacity? Like the Irish, it will never cross the minds of the French to sell us power if they need it themselves. If we are shortly to become significantly reliant on the creaking French nuclear plants that may not deliver when we need it, you can forecast trouble ahead I reckon.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      May 31, 2022 11:28 am

      From my reading of Ben Pile’s article I would conclude that our ‘masters’ are not in Westminster – and furthermore, we did not vote for them.

      • Ian Magness permalink
        May 31, 2022 11:37 am

        Is this what you had in mind Harry?

        Mark Stein on GBNews does a cracking, Hitleresque impersonation of this.

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        May 31, 2022 5:14 pm

        Ian, that’s a seriously scary man – or should that be, stakeholder.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      May 31, 2022 4:56 pm

      Worse still, we will be expected to export maximum potential amounts. Will will end up with UK diesel STOR supplying France., and sky high prices.

  6. May 31, 2022 11:22 am

    The recent T-4 (4 years hence) Capacity Market auction results should worry us, there will shortly be enormous reliance on interconnectors and some on batteries, the former cannot be guaranteed during a persistent wind lull across Europe, and the latter only lasts for a few hours. Note the total absence of coal, and only 990MW of nuclear.

    In total 42,364MW of capacity cleared in the ninth round yesterday afternoon (22 February), from the following sources:

    27,632MW from gas
    6,966MW from interconnectors
    2,528MW from pumped storage
    1,093MW from battery storage
    988MW from demand side response
    990MW from nuclear
    842MW from hydro
    633MW from waste

    • May 31, 2022 4:20 pm

      Reliance on…batteries

      Fail – unless they’re the type we put in torches 🙄

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        May 31, 2022 4:59 pm

        Not just the batteries. Only the gas, nuclear, hydro and waste are truly dispatchable supply.

      • May 31, 2022 5:15 pm

        I can envisage the batteries CAUSING blackouts, rather than preventing them, as they recharge to maximum capacity just before peak demand, in order to maximise income.

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        May 31, 2022 6:36 pm

        Climanrecon: (Batteries) And just when you need them they catch fire!!!

    • Nicholas Lewis permalink
      June 3, 2022 11:35 pm

      Indeed the interconnectors are turning into TO Europe not from with the dislocation of the EU energy market. Of course when in export mode that’s a double deficit extra generation to supply the EU leaving us hugely exposed to having to switch off our own consumers whilst we supply the EU. Can’t imagine the Daily Mail reader being impressed with that.

  7. Mikehig permalink
    May 31, 2022 11:45 am

    “This is a reminder of just how old France’s nuclear reactors are. Out of the total nuclear capacity of 61 GW, only 9 GW is less than 30 years old. Just how much longer they can be patched together must be open to question.”
    That overlooks the huge refurbishment programme – “Grand Carenage” – which has been running since 2016ish. They are projecting a total spend of €46 bn to recondition and modernise all of their nukes (bar the oldest one (Fessenheim)) and extend their operating lives by at least 20 years. The programme was due to end in 2024 but has been seriously delayed by covid working restrictions.
    They’ve been hit by a perfect storm. On top of this work, regular maintenance outages have been extended and/or delayed and routine inspections have found corrosion issues at some plants, as mentioned in the article. If those are serious, the plants could be off-line for a good while (I’m not up to speed on the details).
    A bit more background…..France is much more electrified than the UK. Gridwatch shows that their winter demand can hit 80 GW versus 40 here, despite the smaller population and more southerly geography.

  8. Gerry, England permalink
    May 31, 2022 11:49 am

    Blackout News was on this a week before Bloomberg. The problems are with corrosion in pipework in plants built by Framatome. Their piece also highlights another problem – a rise in the temperature of the rivers used to cool some of the plants. A plant on the Gironde has had to reduce output to reduce heat input to the river.

    When it comes to replacement plants, how is Flammanville going? Years late, billions more expensive and also subject to falsified welding records.

    • Robert Christopher permalink
      May 31, 2022 7:39 pm

      “A plant on the Gironde has had to reduce output to reduce heat input to the river.”

      Not that I am a heat pump fan, but it sounds like a chateau adjacent to the Gironde, down stream to the power station, would be one of the few places that a heat pump would work well.

      In 1974, I remember a Birmingham University Physics student obtained excellent results using the stream in the university grounds. (Hi Roger!)

      It uses the wisdom from Heraclitus, who said, “You cannot step into the same river twice, for other waters are continually flowing on”, hence replacing the cooled water with warm water.

  9. Mikehig permalink
    May 31, 2022 12:00 pm

    Here’s an update from a report to parliament a couple of weeks ago:
    https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/French-regulator-gives-update-on-corrosion-issue
    This has taken 12 plants offline with a further 18 out of service for other reasons.

  10. Ben Vorlich permalink
    May 31, 2022 12:48 pm

    It’s what Macron wanted. in 2017 stressed his commitment to reduce nuclear power to 50% of electricity production. He’s since decided that he might have made a mistake.

  11. May 31, 2022 1:50 pm

    Aren’t we lucky to have such a mega genius engineer at number 10, who knows how to build one reactor a year whereas the French with a negligible 65 years of experience since the opening of Chinon, take a gigantic 10 years to build one. It must be due to the breadth of knowledge imparted at Oxford. Also probably why they don’t offer B.Sc’s.

    • Duker permalink
      June 2, 2022 12:25 am

      Johnston has a newspaper columnist ‘breadth of knowledge’ and of course knows nothing of reactors.
      But I believe its Rolls Royce who do build naval reactors who are looking at the ‘factory build’ market for smaller modular reactors But even if it takes 3 times longer than the one year, its still very fast
      Once I think all UK reactors were once fairly small units by todays standards (200-500MW per reactor) so its only going back to the way it was.

  12. May 31, 2022 3:00 pm

    It’s as if South Africa’s Eskom is in charge.
    https://valuefencing.co.za/pages/view/6/pedestrian-courtyard-garden-gates

  13. dearieme permalink
    May 31, 2022 3:18 pm

    I blame Brexit.

  14. May 31, 2022 4:51 pm

    Such government incompetence is unbelievable. It has to be deliberate policy.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      May 31, 2022 6:53 pm

      Guided by the WEF and Agenda 30 – I suspect.

  15. Mad Mike permalink
    May 31, 2022 5:08 pm

    Off topic but it’s more or less what we have been saying for some time. All domestic car chargers will be compulsorily linked to smart meters from the end of June. I’d imagine that the rest of the house would need to be as well.

    https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/cars/1615935/driving-law-changes-electric-car-home-smart-chargers-june-2022?fbclid=IwAR1F7LXtw5CF2F0K-ENp-miCJ5JloFdVvZSOsdRuZ5ICeFrzRxxEKqaKbqk

    Naturally you won’t be able to charge your EV during peak periods. It also enables the power companies to turn them off as well when needed.

  16. avro607 permalink
    May 31, 2022 6:37 pm

    Do not worry folks,Dale Vince today in the Express is going to save us by using biomethane? from a gas fed anaerobic digester.Apparentlly the country has enough spare grass.?.Good bye sky larks and butterflies.
    Doesnt burning methane produce CO2?

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      May 31, 2022 9:11 pm

      Look for BIOMETHANE MAP
      https://www.europeanbiogas.eu/
      where you can download a pdf file detailing every location of biomethane plants in Europe.

      This quote may surprise this may surprise you

      “Europe reaches a total of 1,023 biomethane producing facilities by October 2021”

      France has nearly 350 and growing maize for these plants has replaced growing traditional food crops and animal rearing

    • Rowland P permalink
      May 31, 2022 11:29 pm

      Save gas! Fart in a jar!!

  17. avro607 permalink
    June 1, 2022 12:35 pm

    Thanks Ben.

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