France could impose power cuts this winter due to an electricity shortage, an unprecedented step in the wealthy nation which would expose the vulnerabilities of its dependence on nuclear power. The warning was issued on Tuesday by grid operator RTE, which said power supply had been hit by the closure of around a third of the country’s ageing nuclear reactors for safety checks. The country’s regulator has ordered a review of the strength of crucial steel components after the discovery of manufacturing irregularities. France relies on nuclear for three-quarters of its power, more than any other country. RTE said the amount of nuclear power available was at a record low for this time of year, around 10,000 megawatts lower than a year ago – equivalent to more than twice the consumption of Paris and Marseille combined. Power supplies are likely to be most stretched in the first three weeks of December, RTE said. With about a third of French homes heated by electricity, the country is highly sensitive to cold snaps. The discovery last year of weak spots in the steel of the EPR reactor state-backed utility EDF is building in Flamanville in northwest France led nuclear regulator ASN to take a closer look at manufacturing procedures of state-owned reactor builder Areva. In May, the ASN said the anomalies found in Flamanville had also been discovered in reactors being operated by EDF and ordered safety tests on 18 out of EDF’s 58 reactors. Unlike other nuclear countries such as the United States and China, which have used different reactor models and suppliers, all French reactors are pressurised water reactors made by the same manufacturer, a forerunner of Areva.
Reuters 8th Nov 2016 read more »
The French company chosen to build Britain’s new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point may have to switch off the lights in its home country because of safety concerns over its reactors. With 20 of the 58 nuclear reactors in France out of service, officials fear that EDF, the state-owned energy giant, will be unable to meet demand if temperatures fall this winter. To avoid a total shutdown, RTE the grid operator, has drawn up an emergency plan that could involve a series of two-hour long power cuts to homes and businesses to reduce peak demand if temperatures fall at least 3C below average this winter. The announcement is the latest blow to EDF’s credibility and comes less than two months after Theresa May approved its project to build two new generation reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset for £18 billion. The plant is designed to provide 7 per cent of Britain’s electricity. In its home country, EDF is reeling from the disclosure that Areva, its sister company in the French nuclear industry, falsified safety tests on key components for reactors.
Times 9th Nov 2016 read more »
France’s green party EELV on Monday elected MEP and former Greenpeace activist Yannick Jadot as its candidate for next year’s presidential election. Jadot, 49, won the party’s primary with 54 percent of the vote, defeating fellow MEP Michele Rivasi who took 40.75 percent. An environmentalist and humanitarian who coordinated Greenpeace campaigns in France between 2002 and 2008, Jadot was elected to the European Parliament in 2009.
France 24 7th Nov 2016 read more »