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Today the economy - Nuclear: why does EPR rhyme with delay?


After years of debate, the French group EDF has finally announced the end of a long serial. The shutdown for 2020 of the ...

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Nuclear: why does EPR rhyme with delay?

After years of debate, the French group EDF has finally announced the end of a long serial. The shutdown for 2020 of the oldest French nuclear power station, that of Fessenheim in the Haut-Rhin. Meanwhile, the " EPRs ", the new generation reactors that are supposed to take over the old models, accumulate delays. The EPR Flamanville in Normandy could start better than in 2022 is 10 years after the date originally planned!

Flamanville and Hinkley Point, two nightmarish projects for which EDF is the prime contractor. They had to be a showcase of French nuclear know-how, both from the point of view of technology and security, eight years after the Fukishima disaster.

Instead, trouble accumulates. Last week, EDF announced for the British reactors, a " risk of postponement of delivery " of fifteen months. Fifteen months late for the start of electricity production. In question, according to the French group, earthworks more complicated than expected and a more restrictive local regulatory framework. The additional cost is estimated at more than 3 billion euros. He will be in charge of EDF and his Chinese partner on the project. What has not failed to react in Paris where the setbacks of the EPR are losing its patience to the government.

Drifting to start-up

The State, EDF's main shareholder, can not accept the " year after year " excesses of the nuclear industry. That's what Bruno Le Maire said last weekend.

Because meanwhile, in Flamanville, in the Channel, the French EPR, in construction since 2007, he should not be started before 2022. The problems accumulate there for years. After the anomalies detected in the composition of the steel of the power plant, it is the welds which slow down the worksite. EDF is currently trying to remedy this under the control of the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN), the sector's gendarme who must validate each step. The procedure could take two years. Farewell so the commissioning planned in 2020 and hello salty bill that exceeds 10 billion euros, three times more than expected.

Projects that do not fit in time or in budgets

The French government wants answers. He has launched an " independent " audit to be conducted by the end of the month to find out what is attributable to the mismanagement by EDF.

The question arises all the more because during this time, in China, the same EPR is already operational. Indeed, Taishan 2 has just started on the China Sea, a year after Taishan 1. The site was launched after Flamanville. Experts in the industry believe that the French side, the industrial fabric, including subcontractor, lost the hand. Twenty years ago, the last plant was built. in France. While in China, this know-how is relatively new and is practiced at full-speed.

In France, above all, the debate is raging on the future of nuclear power and its future position in the energy mix. The accumulated delays are in favor of supporters of renewable energies for whom the atom is not only dangerous but also expensive. It is necessary to stop the costs proclaim the camp ecologist.

The French government was initially to decide by 2021 on the construction or not of new reactors to take over the old ones who provide three quarters of the national electricity. It is also, of course, the future of EDF that it is. The group was commissioned to produce a dossier on the future nuclear landscape. But the executive had to decide mainly according to the fate of Flamanville. Given the delay, it will be for 2022. The decision should therefore be made by the next government.

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Source: rfi

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