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France's Oldest Nuclear Plant To Close This Year (phys.org) 193

mdsolar writes: France is to close down its oldest nuclear power plant, at the center of a row with neighboring Germany and Switzerland, by the end of this year, a green minister said Sunday. "The timeline is one the president has repeated to me several times, it's 2016," said Emmanuelle Cosse, who was named to President Francois Hollande's cabinet last month, referring to the Fessenheim plant. Cosse was speaking to French media after a row sparked Friday when Germany demanded that France close down Fessenheim following reports that a 2014 incident there was worse than earlier portrayed. France's Nuclear Safety Agency said that safety at the plant was "overall satisfactory" but that the government's energy policy "could lead to different choices" regarding the facility, which is near the German and Swiss borders. It said there was "no need" to shut the plant from a nuclear safety point of view. France has promised to cut reliance on nuclear energy from more than 75 percent to 50 percent by shutting 24 reactors by 2025, while stepping up reliance on renewable energy.
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France's Oldest Nuclear Plant To Close This Year

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  • Nukes rule (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I hope they don't replace it with 50 km^2 of solar panels...

    • Re:Nukes rule (Score:5, Informative)

      by prefec2 ( 875483 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @07:18AM (#51652275)

      They will not build a new one. First, Germany is super annoyed that they withheld information on an accident in the plant, as Germany would directly suffer from the consequences if the plant goes Fukushima. Second, EDF tries to build a new nuclear plant in the UK (Hinkley Point C). Their government is totally behind it. Unfortunately, the EDF finance director resigned as he sees the plant to be a economic disaster (the union also think it is stupid and will cost jobs) http://www.theguardian.com/env... [theguardian.com]

      Therefore, it is not very plausible that they will build a new reactor anywhere.

      • Re:Nukes rule (Score:4, Insightful)

        by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @07:49AM (#51652339)
        If we're looking ahead by more than ten years, it is by no means clear that an EDF-built nuclear plant would generate cheaper electricity than a 2025-market PV installation in southern parts of France. So an economic argument makes perfect sense here.
        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          At the price the UK is paying for Hinkley Point C to be built by EDF, it is guaranteed that wind, gas and coal are all cheaper, and solar probably will be too by the time it's finished. Even with battery backup.

          EDF only agreed because the government guaranteed to pay them way over the odds for the energy generated, on top of the usual subsidies. Now even that gravy train isn't looking too attractive to EDF, since the plant is planned to cost £18bn and experience says it will cost some multiple o

          • EDF only agreed because the government guaranteed to pay them way over the odds for the energy generated

            If that is the case I have to assume that many MPs must have EDF shares. I have seen articles about many MPs voting for NHS reforms having shareholdings in private companies that stood to benefit as a result, but haven't seen similar over this EDF deal.

          • The trouble with solar is that we're too small, too dense and too far north to meet our energy needs. The trouble with wind is we're too dense and too small to meet all out energy needs. In fact the combination of as much solar as possible, as much wind as possible and as much tidal power as possible is insufficient to cover the energy needs of teh UK.

            Gas makes us strategically dependent on Russia. Coal involves pushing deaths off on to some other country, rather than being safe, so that's unethical too. Pl

        • than a 2025-market PV installation in southern parts of France

          Cheap, unused desert land; what's not to like?? ;)

        • If we're looking ahead by more than ten years, it is by no means clear that an EDF-built nuclear plant would generate cheaper electricity than a 2025-market PV installation in southern parts of France. So an economic argument makes perfect sense here.

          Nice made up numbers you've got there. Installed PV without subsidy is currently cheaper than nuclear and installation and panel costs have continued to fall at around 20% per year. Wind is way cheaper, and the UK has some of the best wind sites in the world ju

      • They will not build a new one.[...]

        Therefore, it is not very plausible that they will build a new reactor anywhere.

        Uh, they are already building a new one. Fessenhiem can be closed because it will be replaced by Flamanville.

        • by prefec2 ( 875483 )

          Oh indeed they are building one. Initial cost estimates were 3.3 billion € and are now 8.5 billion €. Also it should have been completed in 2012, 2016 and no 2017. After several anomalies in the material and construction, they are at 10.5 billion € and assume finishing in 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

          From a German point of view, the risk of this new plant a smaller than from Fessenheim, as Flamanville is located at the Channel. Anyway, it does not looks like they will really be able

          • prefec2:

            They will not build a new one.

            prefec2:

            Oh indeed they are building one

            So you say something you know is wrong, I correct you, and you go off into various unsubstantiated nonsense.

            Explains the absurd state of the German energy industry completely.

            Germany, CO2 emisions per capita: 9.3 tonnes.
            France, CO2 emissions per capita: 5 tonnes.

            • by prefec2 ( 875483 )

              First, you should look up Wikipedia on that plant. The cost increase is documented there. Second, you refer to CO2 emission of France and Germany which you also got from Wikipedia. Anyway, I have seen values for Germany up to 13 t CO2 per capita. While this sucks big time, one third is produced by traffic, another third is from heating and the rest from electricity. Furthermore, we have many lignite coal power plants which are actually obsolete and could be shutdown without any trouble. It would even improv

              • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

                by AlterEager ( 1803124 )

                I have seen values for Germany up to 13 t CO2 per capita. While this sucks big time, one third is produced by traffic, another third is from heating

                So what? France doesn't have road traffic and heating?

                Furthermore, we have many lignite coal power plants which are actually obsolete and could be shutdown without any trouble. It would even improve grid stability, as we would have less excess capacity (http://www.dw.com/en/the-end-of-lignite-coal-for-power-in-germany/a-18806081).

                So do it already.

                France has been generating 80-90% of it's electricity from low carbon sources since the 1990's and you expect kudos for thinking about maybe closing down some fucking lignite burning power plants at some undefined time between now and 2020.

                Saturday's agreement on closing 2.7 GW of German lignite power plants will reduce electricity from lignite there by 13%

                Oh, fucking great, you're proud that they're going to close 13% of the lignite bu

                • by prefec2 ( 875483 )

                  I have seen values for Germany up to 13 t CO2 per capita. While this sucks big time, one third is produced by traffic, another third is from heating

                  So what? France doesn't have road traffic and heating?

                  Have I implied that? Nope.

                  However, Germany is significant colder than France which requires more heating. France is more centralized which may result in less daily traffic. Usually in France they do not drive not so obsessive big cars as some Germans do (especially in the South).

                  http://www.weatheronline.co.uk... [weatheronline.co.uk]
                  http://www.weatheronline.co.uk... [weatheronline.co.uk]

                  One key source are the lignite coal plants, which could be switched off today.

                  FYI https://www.cleanenergywire.or... [cleanenergywire.org]
                  It would be nice to have a similar source for Franc

            • For reference, a human's breathing is about half a ton per year of CO2.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Chas ( 5144 )

        if the plant goes Fukushima.

        I think the chances of a reactor melting down after losing power due to getting slammed by a tsunami and flooding out due to having an insufficiently high sea wall are pretty slim when they're located in the middle of the French countryside.

        I really, REALLY wish people would stop using incidents like Fukushima out of context like this.
        It makes the people doing it sound like fucking morons.

    • I hope they don't replace it with 50 km^2 of solar panels...

      They'll depend more on coal, like Germany, spend a bunch of money but make only minimal net progress on CO2 reduction.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Germany is only a fraction of the way through its plan, it's far too early to make any kind of judgement. At least wait until they are nearing the end date (the early 2020s when the last nuke is shut down for good).

        Anyway, Germany's coal consumption has already gone down as they close old plants and replace them with fewer new, more efficient ones.

        • From 2009 through end of 2013, The period of biggest renewable expansion, Germany's coal use increase steadily. It has not dropped off since then.
    • Right. I live 7 km from the plant, right across the German border. I can see the damn thing from the window of my daughter's schoolroom. My wife drives maybe 1km from the reactors on the highway every day. I often shop in Fessenheim because they have a great supermarket with good fish. Most of the locals here are completely hysterical about anything nuke. So the morons go and block the highway to protest, plaster everything around here with posters starting with the inside of all the schools and kindergarte

  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @05:56AM (#51652045)

    Germany and France arguing... what could possibly go wrong? It's not like there's any historical precedent or anything... where, you know, Germany was in the wrong in the past...

    • Germany and France arguing... what could possibly go wrong? It's not like there's any historical precedent or anything... where, you know, Germany was in the wrong in the past...

      I would not go there if I was you... That's an argument that was buried so far down in the ground by the post war leaders of France and Germany back in the 1950s and 60s that they weren't satisfied the hole was deep enough until they hit magma and this was done for a good reason.

      • Germany marched on Paris in WW I, you insensitive clod.

        It's why they constructed the Maginot Line in the 1930's: "Never Again".

        • Germany marched on Paris in WW I, you insensitive clod.

          It's why they constructed the Maginot Line in the 1930's: "Never Again".

          Boy, that didn't work out so well did it.

    • by prefec2 ( 875483 )

      Germany and France about many things. That is the normal thing you do with your neighbour. You talk to them about things. It is a much better solution than the one used in the last centuries where we waged war against each other. We argue about refugees, immigrants, nuclear plants, and support each other, e.g., in Africa and in Syria. Also the Greek bailout scheme from Merkel not only saved German banks, but also French banks. So we cooperate on those things. Beside that, there are many personal contacts an

    • Once I heard a fun way to define French-German relationship:

      Germans just want French to hold them dear, alas French only respect Germans.
      French just want Germans to respect them, alas Germans only hold French dear.

    • In the immortal words of Tom Lehrer:

      Once all the Germans were warlike and mean,
      But that couldn't happen again.
      We taught them a lesson in 1918
      And they've hardly bothered us since then.

    • Yeah, and Fessenheim is in Alsace, about 30km from the place where French and German troops met in combat the first time in 1914! Which was German occupied at the time...

  • So.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by John Smith ( 4340437 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @06:19AM (#51652095)
    Better titles "France's power becomes less reliable, more expensive", " France now so ruled by the rest of Europe it can't even stand up to Switzerland", and "French president to lose next election, nuclear power plants to be brought back online".
    • Re:So.... (Score:5, Informative)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo AT world3 DOT net> on Monday March 07, 2016 @06:50AM (#51652179) Homepage

      The French have big problems with nuclear power at the moment. The biggest company running their nuclear fleet, EDF, is in serious trouble. It has plants being built in other European countries that are way, way over budget, and is now looking likely to back out of building the two new reactors at Hinkley Point in the UK.

      The basic problem is cost. EDF has a number of old reactors that need decommissioning and replacing. The new reactors are turning out to be extremely expensive. The pair in the UK are projected to cost £18bn ($26bn) but the identical ones they already started on are approximately 3x over budget and massively delayed.

      So EDF is faced with massive costs from old reactors and a need to borrow massive amounts of money to build the new ones. Even the guarantee from the UK government to pay way, way over the odds for the electricity generated isn't enough any more. The French government was trying to reduce it's stake in EDF, but has recently had to switch to buying up shares again just to keep the lights on.

      On top of all that, their neighbours are building a lot of renewable energy that really pushes prices down. Peak pricing used to be a massive earner for EDF, but now Germany is exporting extremely cheap energy during those times. EDF doesn't want to adapt, can't really adapt because all its cash is tied up in failing nuclear projects.

      They should have fixed the roof while the sun was shining, and installed some solar panels at the same time.

      • by Cyberax ( 705495 )
        EDF is simply too bureaucratic and inefficient. That often happens in France. Right now Russia is building several new reactors, and quite cheaply at that. A new Belorussian power plant (2.4GWte) is due to come online in two years, and it's projected to cost around $9 billions.

        This is actually extremely cost-effective. Wind generators for the same capacity (with load factor taken into account) would cost about three time that price.
      • If Germany is exporting cheap energy it will be a huge political problem. Because it's selling insanely expensive energy to it's citizens.

    • Rubbish (Score:4, Informative)

      by prefec2 ( 875483 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @07:47AM (#51652333)

      Fessenheim is an old plant which had many accidents in recent years. For example they had to introduce large quantities of Bohr into the reactor cooling to inhibit chain reaction because they were unable to insert the regulator rods. Yes I know Bohr is also used during regular operation. However, in much lower quantities. They also neglected to report all details which would have been necessary for Germany to prepare in case of an accident. Fessenheim is directly at the border to Germany.

      • Bohr the physicist, Boron or Bohrium ? The first has a finite supply with a halflife of a few years (and stopped being produced in 1962), the second is more available, the 3rd one is a heavy, unstable elemetn with a halflife of 61 seconds.

      • Fessenheim is an old plant which had many accidents in recent years. For example they had to introduce large quantities of Bohr into the reactor cooling to inhibit chain reaction because they were unable to insert the regulator rods. Yes I know Bohr is also used during regular operation. However, in much lower quantities. They also neglected to report all details which would have been necessary for Germany to prepare in case of an accident. Fessenheim is directly at the border to Germany.

        You might confuse 'accidents' with 'incidents'. Nuclear plants will have 'incidents' where parts fail to operate properly for one reason or another. They are designed diversity and redundancy to take that into account. Yes, older plants generally have more incidents. But just because a plant shuts down safely due to an equipment issue does not make it an 'accident'. Plants are designed to be able to remain safe even with stuck control rods.

        And it is boron, not Bohr, that can be used as neutron poison if

        • by prefec2 ( 875483 )

          Yes indeed it is boron. And we are far better of when it is shutdown. BTW: Just because they use the euphemism incident does not mean it is harmless and not an accident at all. However, it sounds better. That is why it is used in such cases. It is similar to collateral damage instead of murder of innocents and destruction of non-military property.

    • Renewables are much much less expensive than nuclear power. That is why France is ending plans to replace it's fleet and opting for a phase out. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/pa... [ssrn.com]
  • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @07:10AM (#51652257)

    15 Anti-nuke FUD submissions this week alone.

    Do you not have a job or something?

  • by Anonyme Connard ( 218057 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @07:13AM (#51652261)

    France's oldest nuclear plant is Brennilis. It ran from 1967 to 1985. It is still not fully decommissioned, this work being more complex and more expensive than foreseen...
    And there is also Superphénix, running from 1986 to 1996 and far more complex to dismantle, because of plutonium and sodium.

    • by delt0r ( 999393 )
      Not really. When these plants where build, zero thought went into decommissioning considerations. So nothing was really "foreseen". Sure some guy pulled a number out of his arse, but everyone in the know knew that. I am more pro nuke than not. But one thing is for sure. There is very little to back up it's claimed economic viability. We simply don't have enough experience with decommissioning and long term waste management yet.
  • by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @08:46AM (#51652475)

    France made a clear choice decades ago, has stuck with it, enjoys low costs as a result of standardization, and is not about to change. France has no oil and little coal, so the French Greens have never received that fountain of money from the fossil fuel lobby that their counterparts in so many other countries benefit from.

    That "reduce nuclear power to 50%" campaign plank of Hollande's will be forgotten about as soon as Le Pen takes office.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo AT world3 DOT net> on Monday March 07, 2016 @09:59AM (#51652775) Homepage

      Low cost? France's nuclear obsession has cost it dearly. EDF has run out of cash and can't even afford its current decommissioning and new plant contracts. The government is fed up of subsidising them.

      Don't mistake low kWh prices for cheap energy. France pays for it through the massive subsidy that its nuclear industry has enjoyed. The idea was that it would become profitable and not need continuing subsidy, but the plan has failed utterly.

      That's why France is drastically cutting its nuclear fleet. It's way too expensive, and there are better options now. EDF's days of being a welfare queen are over.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        The greatest advantage that the French nuclear program has enjoyed is lack of organized opposition and the endless delaying tactics that you activists use in other countries to increase costs through endless legal delays. Any targeted energy program can be made to cost too much by imposing delay after delay.

        Some illumination on the fossil industry's ownership of the antinuclear movement:
        http://atomicinsights.com/esso... [atomicinsights.com]
        http://ansnuclearcafe.org/2013... [ansnuclearcafe.org]
        In contrast, the French oil giant Elf-Aquitaine (now Tot

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          The flaw with your argument is that if there was this huge conspiracy it would affect all non-fossil energy sources.

          • Oil/coal companies don't care about small renewables because because they know those can't replace baseload. That is why they are getting the German Greens to support replacing nuclear with coal, their aim all along. By the time grass-roots pushback develops against either of the 85-square kilometer lignite strip mines, it will be too late. Those Bagger 288's we were commenting about the other day will be eating your movement along with the German villages.

    • Turns out, 100% renewable energy is cheaper for France. https://100.org/100-goes-globa... [100.org]

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