The 58 nuclear reactors that the French will not answer all the call this winter. In a letter sent on 10 October, the president and CEO of EDF, the minister of the Environment Ségolène Royal expressed concern about the “security of supply” in the electricity following the closure of several reactors. If the president of the EDF group wanted to be reassuring, saying that everything was implemented to ensure “that a maximum of nuclear reactors will be in a situation to operate between the beginning of the month of December and the end of the month of February,” he acknowledged, nevertheless, that the situation is ” more difficult than usual at this time of the year.”
anomalies in string
currently, 21 reactors out of the 58 account France are the judgment, or more than one in three. On these 21 reactors, 15 of which are in technical maintenance ” planned “, so normal, but 7 were subjected to tests on their steam generators, the potentially defective. In fact, since the detection of abnormalities on generators manufactured in the factory at Areva le Creusot, the nuclear safety Authority (ASN) required inspections on 18 reactors equipped by the generators in question. Six of them were allowed to restart, 7 are in the course of the inspection, and the remaining 5 (2 at Fessenheim and Tricastin, Gravelines and Civaux) should be tested in the coming months. EDF is committed to spread the closures of these last five reactors by mid-January in order not to cause “holes” in the production of electricity.
>> read also : anomalies detected on 18 nuclear reactors French
Jean-Bernard Lévy, the CEO of EDF, says, however, “already that 4 of the 58 French reactors will not be available” and said to have ” uncertainties on a maximum of 12 other reactors “. Twelve nuclear reactors at the stop, this would be 11 000 MW of electricity in less, which forces the RTE (electricity transport Network) to review all calculations for the winter.
crossing your fingers for a cold snap falls not on France : one degree leads to a consumption of 2 400 MW additional. For Charlotte Mijeon, of the network-Out of nuclear power, it is unthinkable to continue to rely on the 58 French reactors in the coming years : “the More a reactor gets, the more it needs maintenance,” she says. This winter, the France should not miss electricity because it can import it, with the cost that it implies, but it shows the extreme vulnerability of the energy system French. “
>> also read : Fukushima, five years after. And if the next nuclear disaster took place in France?
To overcome the shortcomings of nuclear power, which still represents more than 70 % of the electricity produced in France, EDF can count on other sources of energy, including renewable energies : hydropower, solar energy or wind power. Nevertheless, the installed capacity to date, 11,000 MW for the wind energy and 7,000 MW for solar, represents only 20 % of the power consumption.
For Damien Mathon, managing director of the renewable energies Syndicate (SER), this uncertainty about the ability of nuclear power to meet the winter demand, and pleads in favour of the installation of various energy sources : “This highlights the importance of achieving the objectives of the multi-annual programming of energy (EPP) in wind and solar, continuing to streamline the administrative procedures for the installation, and taking the program calls for proposals “, he says.
Before you have enough energy coming from the wind or the sun, the France will always be able to fill its electricity needs by buying its european neighbours. But at what price ? In recent weeks, the price of energy rose dramatically, up to 90 euros per megawatt hour in the peak period. Not to mention that each day of shutdown of a nuclear reactor costs one million euros to EDF. France should not have black-out this winter, but it could pay dearly.
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