France’s love for nuclear power continues, but change is progressing

France is known as a hotbed of culture, gastronomy and style. The country is also like a world leader in another area of ​​nuclear power.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, France has 56 operating reactors, second only to 94 in the United States.

Together, these French facilities have a total capacity of 61,370 megawatts (MW). Regarding the share of nuclear power in France’s electricity production, the IAEA states that it will be 70.6% in 2019, the highest in the world.

less than, CNBC’s “Sustainable Energy” Let’s look at the role that nuclear power can play in the future of energy in both France and the wider world.

Major player

Peter Osbaldstone, research director of research group Wood Mackenzie, told CNBC in an email that France is “by far the largest nuclear power plant in Europe.”

“France’s electricity emission intensity is lower than its major neighbors, and the market has a relatively small portion of the total supply that fossil fuels meet,” he continued.

“Wholesale electricity prices in France tend to be lower than in neighboring markets because low marginal cost nuclear power is so prominent,” he added, adding that this factor also affected end-user prices. Relatively low.

Andrew Lever, director of advisory firm Carbon Trust, told CNBC that France “enjoyed its low reliance on fossil-based power generation.”

“Therefore, from a carbon reduction perspective, it starts at a lower reference point than other economies that rely on fossil fuel-based generation,” he added.

Macron’s mission

Last December, French President Emmanuel Macron suggested that nuclear weapons would continue to play an important role in the country’s energy mix.

According to a translation of a statement released by Reuters, Macron said the French nuclear industry “will continue to be the basis of our strategic autonomy.”

Macron’s comments suggest that France will continue its relationship with nuclear power in the future, but changes are still underway. In fact, by 2035, the government wants to reduce its share of nuclear power in its electricity mix to 50%. Then, mixed image.

Wood Mackenzie’s Osvaldostone said the 50% target did not mean that technology was completely unsupported, but was “directed” by the French government in 2019. EDF To explore the possibility of building six new reactors at three sites, “he added.

Challenges of decarbonization

“Nuclear power has historically been one of the largest contributors to carbon-free electricity in the world,” the International Energy Agency said, adding that “there is great potential to contribute to the decarbonization of the electricity sector.” ..

However, while the IEA states that it produces carbon-free electricity, keep in mind that many consider nuclear power to be a non-renewable resource. This is because it claims that uranium, an essential metal for nuclear power generation, will eventually be depleted.

Carbon Trust Lever told CNBC that the level of investment required to decarbonize the energy supply for any economy is “large.”

In addition, the costs of renewable energy technologies such as solar power generation and onshore and offshore wind power enjoyed “significant reductions”, but “there was a lack of consistent cost reductions” and “new nuclear power”. I couldn’t say the same thing.

“From a new construction perspective, there is a risk of delays in construction and cost control, which poses a risk to migration costs and ultimately to consumer energy costs,” Lever said.

“In addition, the potentially high decommissioning and waste disposal costs make the core a relatively expensive and unsustainable technology compared to renewable energy-based alternatives, which is a major risk in the future. Means. “

France appears to maintain a close relationship with nuclear power, but neighboring Germany is on a different path.

In response to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant meltdown caused by the earthquake and tsunami, Chancellor Angela Merkel has formulated a plan to close the national nuclear power plant by the end of 2022.

Just last week, Reuters reported that Germany had agreed to pay four companies — Vattenfall, RWE, E.ON EnBW — Compensation totaling approximately € 2.6 billion (approximately $ 3.09 billion) for the early closure of nuclear power plants.

Criticism and concern

Macron seems to support nuclear weapons, but it goes without saying that this technology is not endorsed by everyone.

Critics include Greenpeace. “Nuclear power is touted as a solution to our energy problems, but in reality construction is complex and costly,” said the website of an environmental group.

“It also produces a lot of hazardous waste,” he adds. “Renewable energy is cheap and quick to install. Together with batteries, it can generate the power it needs and reduce emissions.”

Global situation

The debate over the role of nuclear power in the Earth’s energy mix will continue as governments around the world seek to move from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.

Just last month, Bill Gates, Microsoft Co-founder and billionaire told CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin: Nuclear power will be “absolutely” politically accepted again. Gates is also the founder and chairman of TerraPower, a company focused on nuclear innovation.

So is the transition from fossil fuels to renewables possible without nuclear power?

“Low emissions sources like nuclear power can play a role in energy conversion, of course,” said Osvaldostone of Wood Mackenzie before outlining some of the challenges ahead.

“But while the cost of building a new nuclear power is high, the technology requires strong political support and regulatory frameworks in the host country,” he added, adding that generators are “usually large and relatively flexible in operation.” No sexuality. These features reduce the number of possible applications for nuclear power .. “.

New technologies, including a small modular reactor (SMR), “can take some steps to address these shortcomings and open up a larger role for the source, but SMRs are very much at the moment. It plays an important role. “

France’s love for nuclear power continues, but change is progressing

Source link France’s love for nuclear power continues, but change is progressing

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