Just as the COP23 meetings were getting underway, French environmental minister Nicolas Hulot said that France was not abandoning the goal of switching partly from nuclear to renewables, but merely postponing its attainment. Craig Morris says more time won’t help: Nuclear may help keep the lights on in France for now, but the French remain in the dark about the conflict between nuclear and wind & solar. France has announced (report in French) the abandonment of plans first adopted in 2012 to reduce the share of nuclear from 75% to 50% by 2025. The reason given is that such a fast reduction would not be possible without more fossil energy in the interim. A recent post by climate change skeptic Euan Mearns on the infamous duck curve illustrates the problem well. Mearns estimates that a 10% solar share of annual supply would peak at some 28 MW on a sunny summer day in France, with demand at 45 GW. His analysis doesn’t investigate what a peak of 2/3 solar would mean for nuclear, but clearly the fleet would be pushed down to serving a residual load of only 17 GW. Reducing the nuclear fleet by a third from 63 GW to 42 GW would thus still mean ramping by around half. The French fleet has never demonstrated it can ramp by more than a third. And even then, all other power sources – wind, biomass, hydro, and gas (France will close its last coal plants in 2021, see President Macron’s tweet below) – would need to be curtailed entirely. It would be an expensive mess, not to mention a technical challenge.
Energy Transition 20th Nov 2017 read more »
French state-controlled utility EDF said on Monday it has been informed by its supplier Areva of defects in the quality control of certain nuclear reactor fuel rods but said that this did not mean that the rods were faulty. EDF said the rods were being monitored on a constant basis, after Areva said on Friday it had delivered defective rods to clients. Swiss broadcaster SRF reported that the Leibstadt nuclear plant in northern Switzerland has been closed till yearend because of faulty Areva fuel rods. “In the event of a detected anomaly, EDF operating procedures provide for measures ranging from the reduction of load variations to the complete shutdown of the reactor,” the company said in response to questions. It added that the reactors concerned are operating normally, and none of these measures have been put in place.
Reuters 20th Nov 2017 read more »