France Restarting All 32 Nuclear Reactors by Winter

32 out of 56 French Nuclear Reactors have been shut down for months because of either stress corrosion or routine maintenance. The stress corrosion problem was because of sloppy maintenance.

The French government will step in and absorb some of the sky high cost of electricity. This will partially shield consumers from the excess cost of energy.

The wholesale price in 2022 was 85 euros per megawatt hour (8.5 cents per kilowatt hour wholesale). The price is 1000 euros per megawatt hour ($1 per kilowatt hour).

Over the last decade France has exported up to 70 TWh net each year. In the first half of 2021 France was Europe’s biggest electricity exporter, principally to the UK and Italy.

France getting 70% of its electricity from nuclear is a result of the French government deciding in 1974, just after the first oil shock, to rapidly expand the country’s nuclear power capacity, using Westinghouse technology. France has good engineering but not many natural energy resources.

France now claims a substantial level of energy independence and an extremely low level of carbon dioxide emissions per capita from electricity generation, since over 80% of its electricity is from nuclear or hydro.

Nuclear outages in 2022

In May 2022 EDF reduced the estimated nuclear output from France’s reactor fleet for 2022 to 280-300 TWh, well below the ten-year average of 395 TWh. It estimates output for 2023 will be 300-330 TWh. As of the end of August 2022, 32 units were offline. Fourteen of those were either undergoing repair or investigation of corrosion problems that were first detected at Civaux 1 in December 2021 and 18 were offline for routine maintenance. Many planned outages were delayed or reduced in scope in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

9 thoughts on “France Restarting All 32 Nuclear Reactors by Winter”

  1. “The French government will step in and absorb some of the sky high cost of electricity.” Why sky high? the cost of nuclear electricity did not jump sky high. Just sell the domestic consumption at the price required to keep the power stations going, and the surplus at whatever they can get in the market. Or are they so tied up in the EU that they can’t sell to the people who payed and voted for the system and factually own it at a reasonable price. It was the neighbours that ducked up, not the French.

  2. depends who’s responsible for running supply systems of all kind
    European Network responsibilities think about that this way:
    “(N-1)-Criterion: The rule according to which elements remaining in operation within TSO’s Responsibility Area after a Contingency from the Contingency List must be capable of accommodating the new operational situation without violating Operational Security Limits.”

    70TWh electricity exporting within an overall consumption on average top (2017) of around 2800TWh is about 2.5% for a ~450M people population area. (Natural gas ~585TWh, Renewables ~1075TWh (Hydro ~370, Wind ~395, Solar ~125, bio fuels ~135 TWh), Nuclear ~680TWh). Total electrical capacity almost 1TW (average capacity factor of all active power supply ~31%).
    Neighbours for electricity generation (average) to France ~50GW(~485TWh) are Germany, Spain, United Kingdom, Italy, Netherlands are on ~58GW(550TWh), ~26GW(260TWh), ~35GW(310TWh), ~34GW(307TWh), ~13.5GW(120TWh) (geographically more distant, Poland ~170TWh, Sweden ~140TWh, Norway ~125TWh).
    ~2021 France, Sweden, Germany were biggest net exporters of electricity within European Union.

    Gross available energy 57767PJ or ~16000TWh (2020, -8.1% comp. 2019 because of pandemic situation)
    ( Gross available energy = Primary production + Recovered & Recycled products + Imports – Export + Stock changes )
    Global primary energy consumption (~2019) 160,000.TWh.
    (~2021) China, United States, India, Russia, Japan, Brazil electricity production ~8500TWh, ~4400TWh, ~1700TWh, ~1150TWh, ~1001TWh, ~650TWh
    (Africa 895TWh, North America 5450TWh, Asia 15600TWh, Australia 265TWh, Europe 4900TWh, Latin America and Caribbean ~1650TWh, Middle East 1300TWh, Oceania 310TWh, South America 1200TWh (incl. Central America 1350TWh), North Korea 14TWh, South Korea 600TWh, Taiwan 290TWh, Cuba 18TWh, Afghanistan 0.75TWh;
    Low-income Countries ~0.3TWh (-72.5TWh from 1985) Burundi ~0.32TWh,
    Lower-middle-income Countries ~3550TWh (incr. 2850TWh from 1985) Rwanda ~0.8TWh,
    High-income Countries ~11500TWh,
    all World ~28400TWh )

  3. “The stress corrosion problem was because of sloppy maintenance.”

    Reference please.

    All light water reactors have mitigation programs for stress corrosion cracking such as injecting hydrogen in the coolant to create a reducing environment, and IVI (in vessel inspection of bolted connections and susceptible weldments).

    Why do you think all the steam generators were replaced in domestic PWRs? Because corrosion is real.

    Has nothing to do with shoddy maintenance. Modern water chemistry is held within very tight bands. It’s just a fact of life. I have no idea why they decided to maintenance 32 of them at the same time (assuming that’s true).

    • If the European reactors are on annual cycles you will see half them shut down every fall for refueling. If they are on 18 months cycles you’ll see a third of them out every spring, or fall.

      You make it sound like they shut the plants down because they’re sub quality rust buckets. Simply not true.

  4. The is also the spectre of underspec metals from the creusot forge a while back that’s installed in the fleet.

    EDF will need to bring out the entire lineup this winter for not only immediate economic relief for France as well as Germany, but to gain the political capital to back the planned french fleet replacement. If things don’t pan out, a lot of political will for the alleged EU nuclear renaissance will evaporate.

  5. Nuclear revival is probably the best thing that came out of the war in Ukraine.

    Shipping gas all over the world instead of local nuclear production has to be insane. And the defenders of such policy either ignorant or malicious.

    • “Ignorant or malicious” in many cases, possibly. But not all cases. There’s also the genuine concern about nuclear terrorism. The enriched uranium supply chain needs to be kept secure. And those technicians with the knowledge and skills to harness nuclear energy need to be kept on side.

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