Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Nuclear power in France

Nuclear power in France

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Nuclear power in France'
Start a new discussion about 'Nuclear power in France'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Nuclear power
Nuclear power
Nuclear power is the use of sustained nuclear fission to generate heat and electricity. Nuclear power plants provide about 6% of the world's energy and 13–14% of the world's electricity, with the U.S., France, and Japan together accounting for about 50% of nuclear generated electricity...

 is the primary source of electric power
Electric power
Electric power is the rate at which electric energy is transferred by an electric circuit. The SI unit of power is the watt.-Circuits:Electric power, like mechanical power, is represented by the letter P in electrical equations...

 in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. In 2004, 425.8 TWh out of the country's total production of 540.6 TWh of electricity was from nuclear power (78.8%), the highest percentage in the world.

France is also the world's largest net exporter of electric power, exporting 18% of its total production (about 100 TWh) to Italy
Nuclear power in Italy
Nuclear power in Italy is a controversial topic. Nuclear power was used until the Italian nuclear power referendum closed all plants by 1990, a decision which was reversed in 2008...

, the Netherlands, Belgium, Britain
Nuclear power in the United Kingdom
Nuclear power currently generates around a sixth of the United Kingdom's electricity. As of 2011, the United Kingdom operates 19 nuclear reactors at nine locations...

, and Germany
Nuclear power in Germany
Nuclear power in Germany accounted for 23% of national electricity consumption, before the permanent shutdown of 8 plants in March 2011. German nuclear power began with research reactors in the 1950s and 1960s with the first commercial plant coming online in 1969...

, and its electricity cost is among the lowest in Europe. France's nuclear power industry has been called "a success story" that has put the nation "ahead of the world" in terms of providing cheap, CO2-free energy. However, France's nuclear reactors are mainly used in load-following mode and some reactors close on weekends because there is no market for the electricity. This means that the capacity factor
Capacity factor
The net capacity factor or load factor of a power plant is the ratio of the actual output of a power plant over a period of time and its potential output if it had operated at full nameplate capacity the entire time...

 is low by world standards, which is not an ideal economic situation for nuclear plants.

As of 2002, Électricité de France
Électricité de France
Électricité de France S.A. is the second largest French utility company. Headquartered in Paris, France, with €65.2 billion in revenues in 2010, EDF operates a diverse portfolio of 120,000+ megawatts of generation capacity in Europe, Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.EDF is one of...

 (EDF) — the country's main electricity
Electricity
Electricity is a general term encompassing a variety of phenomena resulting from the presence and flow of electric charge. These include many easily recognizable phenomena, such as lightning, static electricity, and the flow of electrical current in an electrical wire...

 generation and distribution company — manages the country's 59 nuclear power
Nuclear power
Nuclear power is the use of sustained nuclear fission to generate heat and electricity. Nuclear power plants provide about 6% of the world's energy and 13–14% of the world's electricity, with the U.S., France, and Japan together accounting for about 50% of nuclear generated electricity...

 plants. , these plants produce 90% of EDF's and about 78% France's electrical power production (of which some is exported), making EDF the world leader in production of nuclear power by percentage.

In 2006, the French Government asked Areva
Areva
AREVA is a French public multinational industrial conglomerate headquartered in the Tour Areva in Courbevoie, Paris. AREVA is mainly known for nuclear power; it also has interests in other energy projects. It was created on 3 September 2001, by the merger of Framatome , Cogema and...

 and EDF
Électricité de France
Électricité de France S.A. is the second largest French utility company. Headquartered in Paris, France, with €65.2 billion in revenues in 2010, EDF operates a diverse portfolio of 120,000+ megawatts of generation capacity in Europe, Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.EDF is one of...

 to build a next generation nuclear reactor
Nuclear reactor
A nuclear reactor is a device to initiate and control a sustained nuclear chain reaction. Most commonly they are used for generating electricity and for the propulsion of ships. Usually heat from nuclear fission is passed to a working fluid , which runs through turbines that power either ship's...

, the EPR (European Pressurized Reactor
European Pressurized Reactor
The EPR is a third generation pressurized water reactor design. It has been designed and developed mainly by Framatome , Electricité de France in France, and Siemens AG in Germany...

), at the Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant
Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant
The Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant is located at Flamanville, Manche, France on the Cotentin Peninsula.It houses two pressurized water reactors that produce 1300 MWe each and came into service in 1986 and 1987, respectively. It produced 18.9 TWh in 2005, which amounted to 4% of the electricity...

. This was followed in 2008 by a Presidential announcement of another new EPR, spurred by high oil and gas prices. The second French EPR reactor will be built in Penly
Penly Nuclear Power Plant
The Penly Nuclear power station is found some northeast of Dieppe. It lies on the border of two French municipalities: Penly and Saint-Martin-en-Campagne in the département of Seine-Maritime, Normandy, on the English Channel coast.-Data:...

. Construction work should start in 2012 and completion is scheduled for 2017.

Following the 2011 Fukushima I nuclear accidents, in a letter dated March 23, Prime Minister Francois Fillon
François Fillon
François Charles Armand Fillon is the Prime Minister of France. He was appointed to that office by President Nicolas Sarkozy on 17 May 2007. He served initially until 13 November 2010 when he resigned from being prime minister before a planned cabinet reshuffle.On 14 November 2010, Sarkozy...

 asked the Nuclear Safety Authority
Autorité de sûreté nucléaire
The Autorité de sûreté nucléaire is an independent French administrative authority set up by law 2006-686 of 13 June 2006 concerning nuclear transparency and safety. Its task, on behalf of the State, is to regulate nuclear safety and radiation protection in order to protect workers, patients, the...

 to carry out an 'open and transparent' audit each of its nuclear installations, looking at the risks of flood, earthquake, loss of power and cooling, and accident management processes, in order to identify any improvements that should be made in the light of lessons learned from Fukushima. The initial conclusions are expected by the end of 2011. France conducted a more limited review following flooding at its Blayais Nuclear Power Plant
1999 Blayais Nuclear Power Plant flood
The 1999 Blayais Nuclear Power Plant flood was a flood that took place on the evening of December 27, 1999. It was caused when a combination of the tide and high winds led to the sea walls of the Blayais Nuclear Power Plant in France being overwhelmed...

 in 1999.

History


France has a long relationship with nuclear power, starting with Henri Becquerel
Henri Becquerel
Antoine Henri Becquerel was a French physicist, Nobel laureate, and the discoverer of radioactivity along with Marie Curie and Pierre Curie, for which all three won the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics.-Early life:...

's discovery of natural radioactivity in the 1890s and continued by famous nuclear scientists like Pierre
Pierre Curie
Pierre Curie was a French physicist, a pioneer in crystallography, magnetism, piezoelectricity and radioactivity, and Nobel laureate. He was the son of Dr. Eugène Curie and Sophie-Claire Depouilly Curie ...

 and Marie Curie
Marie Curie
Marie Skłodowska-Curie was a physicist and chemist famous for her pioneering research on radioactivity. She was the first person honored with two Nobel Prizes—in physics and chemistry...

.

Before World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, France had been heavily involved in nuclear research through the work of the Joliot-Curie
Joliot-Curie
Joliot-Curie may refer to more than one person:* Frédéric Joliot-Curie- a French physicist and Nobel prize-winner* Irène Joliot-Curie - his wife and joint prize-winner with her husband...

s. In 1945 the Provisional Government of the French Republic
Provisional Government of the French Republic
The Provisional Government of the French Republic was an interim government which governed France from 1944 to 1946, following the fall of Vichy France and prior to the Fourth French Republic....

 (GPRF) created the Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique
Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique
The Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives or CEA, is a French “public establishment related to industrial and commercial activities” whose mission is to develop all applications of nuclear power, both civilian and military...

(CEA) governmental agency, and Nobel prize
Nobel Prize in Chemistry
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry is awarded annually by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to scientists in the various fields of chemistry. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895, awarded for outstanding contributions in chemistry, physics, literature,...

 winner Frédéric Joliot-Curie
Frédéric Joliot-Curie
Jean Frédéric Joliot-Curie , born Jean Frédéric Joliot, was a French physicist and Nobel laureate.-Early years:...

, member of the French Communist Party
French Communist Party
The French Communist Party is a political party in France which advocates the principles of communism.Although its electoral support has declined in recent decades, the PCF retains a large membership, behind only that of the Union for a Popular Movement , and considerable influence in French...

 (PCF) since 1942, was appointed high-commissioner. He was relieved of his duties in 1950 for political reasons
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

, and would be one of the 11 signatories to the Russell-Einstein Manifesto
Russell-Einstein Manifesto
The Russell–Einstein Manifesto was issued in London on July 9, 1955 by Bertrand Russell in the midst of the Cold War. It highlighted the dangers posed by nuclear weapons and called for world leaders to seek peaceful resolutions to international conflict...

 in 1955. The CEA was created by Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....

 on October 18, 1945. Its mandate is to conduct fundamental and applied research
Applied research
Applied research is a form of systematic inquiry involving the practical application of science. It accesses and uses some part of the research communities' accumulated theories, knowledge, methods, and techniques, for a specific, often state, business, or client driven purpose...

 into many areas, including the design of nuclear reactor
Nuclear reactor
A nuclear reactor is a device to initiate and control a sustained nuclear chain reaction. Most commonly they are used for generating electricity and for the propulsion of ships. Usually heat from nuclear fission is passed to a working fluid , which runs through turbines that power either ship's...

s, the manufacturing of integrated circuits, the use of radionucleides for medical treatments, seismology
Seismology
Seismology is the scientific study of earthquakes and the propagation of elastic waves through the Earth or through other planet-like bodies. The field also includes studies of earthquake effects, such as tsunamis as well as diverse seismic sources such as volcanic, tectonic, oceanic,...

 and tsunami
Tsunami
A tsunami is a series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of a body of water, typically an ocean or a large lake...

 propagation, and the safety of computerized systems
Computer
A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem...

.

Nuclear research was discontinued for a time after the war because of the instability of the Fourth Republic
French Fourth Republic
The French Fourth Republic was the republican government of France between 1946 and 1958, governed by the fourth republican constitution. It was in many ways a revival of the Third Republic, which was in place before World War II, and suffered many of the same problems...

 and the lack of finances available. However, in the 1950s a civil nuclear research program was started, a by-product of which would be plutonium
Plutonium
Plutonium is a transuranic radioactive chemical element with the chemical symbol Pu and atomic number 94. It is an actinide metal of silvery-gray appearance that tarnishes when exposed to air, forming a dull coating when oxidized. The element normally exhibits six allotropes and four oxidation...

. In 1956 a secret Committee for the Military Applications of Atomic Energy was formed and a development program for delivery vehicles started. In 1957, soon after the Suez Crisis
Suez Crisis
The Suez Crisis, also referred to as the Tripartite Aggression, Suez War was an offensive war fought by France, the United Kingdom, and Israel against Egypt beginning on 29 October 1956. Less than a day after Israel invaded Egypt, Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to Egypt and Israel,...

 and the diplomatic tension with both the USSR and the United States, French president René Coty
René Coty
René Jules Gustave Coty was President of France from 1954 to 1959. He was the second and last president under the French Fourth Republic.-Early life and politics:...

 decided the creation of the C.S.E.M. in the then French Sahara
French rule in Algeria
French Algeria lasted from 1830 to 1962, under a variety of governmental systems. From 1848 until independence, the whole Mediterranean region of Algeria was administered as an integral part of France, much like Corsica and Réunion are to this day. The vast arid interior of Algeria, like the rest...

, a new nuclear tests facility replacing the C.I.E.E.S. See France and nuclear weapons.

The first nuclear power plant in France was opened in 1963.

Messmer Plan


As a direct result of the 1973 oil crisis
1973 oil crisis
The 1973 oil crisis started in October 1973, when the members of Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries or the OAPEC proclaimed an oil embargo. This was "in response to the U.S. decision to re-supply the Israeli military" during the Yom Kippur war. It lasted until March 1974. With the...

, on March 6, 1974 Prime Minister Pierre Messmer
Pierre Messmer
Pierre Joseph Auguste Messmer was a French Gaullist politician. He served as Minister of Armies under Charles de Gaulle from 1960 to 1969 – the longest serving since Étienne François, duc de Choiseul under Louis XV – and then as Prime Minister under Georges Pompidou from 1972 to 1974...

 unexpectedly announced what became known as the 'Messmer Plan', a huge nuclear power program aimed at generating all of France's electricity from nuclear power. At the time of the oil crisis most of France's electricity came from foreign oil, and while it was strong in heavy engineering capabilities, France had few indigenous energy resources,

The announcement of the Messmer Plan, which was imposed without public or parliamentary debate, also led to the foundation of the Groupement des scientifiques pour l'information sur l'énergie nucléaire
Groupement des scientifiques pour l'information sur l'énergie nucléaire
The Groupement de scientifiques pour l'information sur l'énergie nucléaire GSIEN is a multidisciplinary not-for-profit association of independent scientists who aim to spread information about the nuclear industry in France founded on December 15, 1975.In addition to providing a structure within...

(Association of Scientists for Information on Nuclear Energy), formed after around 4,000 scientists signed a petition
Petition
A petition is a request to do something, most commonly addressed to a government official or public entity. Petitions to a deity are a form of prayer....

 of concern over the government's action, known as the Appeal of the 400 after the 400 scientists who initially signed it.

The plan envisaged the construction of around 80 nuclear plants by 1985 and a total of 170 plants by 2000. Work on the first three plants, at Tricastin, Gravelines, and Dampierre
Dampierre Nuclear Power Plant
The Dampierre nuclear power plant is located in the town of Dampierre-en-Burly , 55 km upstream of Orleans and 110 km downstream of Nevers, it uses water from the Loire for cooling.Approximately 1,100 people work at the site.-Seismic risk:...

 started the same year and France installed 56 reactors over the next 15 years.

Recent developments


In 2001, Areva
Areva
AREVA is a French public multinational industrial conglomerate headquartered in the Tour Areva in Courbevoie, Paris. AREVA is mainly known for nuclear power; it also has interests in other energy projects. It was created on 3 September 2001, by the merger of Framatome , Cogema and...

, was created by the merger of CEA Industrie
Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique
The Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives or CEA, is a French “public establishment related to industrial and commercial activities” whose mission is to develop all applications of nuclear power, both civilian and military...

, Framatome and Cogema (now Areva NC
Areva NC
Areva NC, formerly Cogema is a French company, created in 1976 from the production division of the French government's CEA It is an industrial group active in all stages of the uranium fuel cycle, including uranium mining, conversion, enrichment, spent fuel reprocessing, and recycling...

). Its main shareholder
Shareholder
A shareholder or stockholder is an individual or institution that legally owns one or more shares of stock in a public or private corporation. Shareholders own the stock, but not the corporation itself ....

 is the French owned company CEA, but the German government also holds, through Siemens
Siemens
Siemens may refer toSiemens, a German family name carried by generations of telecommunications industrialists, including:* Werner von Siemens , inventor, founder of Siemens AG...

, 34% of the shares of Areva's subsidiary, Areva NP, in charge of building the EPR (third-generation nuclear reactor)
European Pressurized Reactor
The EPR is a third generation pressurized water reactor design. It has been designed and developed mainly by Framatome , Electricité de France in France, and Siemens AG in Germany...

.

Technical overview


Drawing such a large percentage of overall electrical production from nuclear power is unique to France. This reliance has resulted in certain necessary deviations from the standard design and function of other nuclear power programs. For instance, in order to meet changing demand throughout the day, some plants must work as peaking power plant
Peaking power plant
Peaking power plants, also known as peaker plants, and occasionally just "peakers," are power plants that generally run only when there is a high demand, known as peak demand, for electricity.-Peak hours:...

, whereas most nuclear plants in the world operate as base load plants
Base load power plant
Baseload is the minimum amount of power that a utility or distribution company must make available to its customers, or the amount of power required to meet minimum demands based on reasonable expectations of customer requirements...

, and allow other fossil or hydro units to adjust to demand. Nuclear power in France has a total capacity factor of around 77%, which is low due to load following. However availability is around 84%, indicating excellent overall performance of the plants.

The first 8 power reactors in the nation were gas cooled reactor types (UNGG reactor
UNGG reactor
The UNGG is an obsolete design of nuclear power reactor developed by France. It was graphite moderated, cooled by carbon dioxide, and fueled with natural uranium metal....

), whose development was pioneered by CEA. Coinciding with a uranium enrichment program, EdF developed pressurized water reactor
Pressurized water reactor
Pressurized water reactors constitute a large majority of all western nuclear power plants and are one of three types of light water reactor , the other types being boiling water reactors and supercritical water reactors...

 (PWR) technology which eventually became the dominant type. The gas-cooled reactors located at Brennilis
Brennilis Nuclear Power Plant
The Brennilis Nuclear Power Plant is a decommissioned site located in the Monts d'Arrée in the commune of Brennilis in Finistère, France.-History:...

, Bugey
Bugey Nuclear Power Plant
The Bugey Nuclear Power Station is located in Bugey in the Saint-Vulbas commune , about 30 km from the Swiss border. The site occupies 100 hectares. It is on the edge of the Rhône River, from where it gets its cooling water, and is about 30 km upstream from Lyon...

, Chinon
Chinon Nuclear Power Plant
The Chinon Nuclear Power Plant is near the town of Avoine in the French Indre et Loire département, on the Loire river . The power station has seven reactors, of which three are now closed....

, and Marcoule have all been shut down.

All operating plants today are PWRs with the exception of the Phénix
Phénix
Phénix was a small-scale prototype fast breeder reactor, located at the Marcoule nuclear site, near Orange, France. It was a pool-type liquid-metal fast breeder reactor cooled with liquid sodium...

, which was part of an initiative to develop sodium-cooled fast breeder reactor
Breeder reactor
A breeder reactor is a nuclear reactor capable of generating more fissile material than it consumes because its neutron economy is high enough to breed fissile from fertile material like uranium-238 or thorium-232. Breeders were at first considered superior because of their superior fuel economy...

 technology. The Superphénix
Superphénix
Superphénix or SPX was a nuclear power station on the Rhône River at Creys-Malville in France, close to the border with Switzerland. A fast breeder reactor, it halted electricity production in 1996 and was closed as a commercial plant in 1997....

, a larger, more ambitious version, has been shut down.

The PWR plants were all developed by Framatome (which is now Areva
Areva
AREVA is a French public multinational industrial conglomerate headquartered in the Tour Areva in Courbevoie, Paris. AREVA is mainly known for nuclear power; it also has interests in other energy projects. It was created on 3 September 2001, by the merger of Framatome , Cogema and...

) from the initial Westinghouse
Westinghouse Electric Company
Westinghouse Electric Company LLC is a nuclear power company, offering a wide range of nuclear products and services to utilities throughout the world, including nuclear fuel, service and maintenance, instrumentation and control and advanced nuclear plant designs...

 design . All of the PWR plants are one of three variations of the design, having output powers of 900 MWe
MWE
MWE may refer to:*Manufacturer's Weight Empty*McDermott Will & Emery*Midwest Express, an airline*Merowe Airport - IATA code*Multiword expressionMWe may refer to:*Megawatt electrical...

, 1300 MWe, and 1450 MWe. The repeated use of these standard variants of a design has afforded France the greatest degree of nuclear plant standardization in the world.

900 MWe class (CP0, CP1 and CP2 designs)


There are a total of 34 of these reactors in operation; most were constructed in the 1970s and the early 1980s. In 2002 they had a uniform review and all were granted a 10 year life extension.

With the CP0 and CP1 designs, two reactors share the same machine and command room. With the CP2 design, each reactor has its own machine and command room. Despite this difference, CP1 and CP2 types use the same technologies (the two types are frequently referred as CPY). Compared to CP0 they have an additional cooling circuit between the emergency system that allows to spraying water into the containment in case of an accident and the circuit which contains river's water, a more flexible control system and some minor difference in the layout of the building.

This three loop design (three steam generators and three primary circulation pumps) was also exported to a number of other countries, including:
  • South Africa
    South Africa
    The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

     - 2 units at the Koeberg nuclear power station
    Koeberg nuclear power station
    Koeberg nuclear power station is the only nuclear power station in South Africa and the entire African continent. It is located 30 km north of Cape Town, near Melkbosstrand on the west coast of South Africa. Koeberg is owned and operated by the country's only national electricity supplier, Eskom...

  • South Korea
    South Korea
    The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

     - 2 units at the Ulchin Nuclear Power Plant
    Ulchin Nuclear Power Plant
    The Uljin Nuclear Power Plant is a large nuclear power station in the Gyeongsangbuk-do province of South Korea. The facility runs at an installed capacity of 5,881 MW. There is one 942 MW unit, one 945 MW unit, one 994 MW unit, one 998 MW unit, and two 1,001 MW units....

  • Peoples' Republic of China
    Nuclear power in China
    , the People's Republic of China has 14 nuclear power reactors spread out over 4 separate sites and 27 under construction. China's National Development and Reform Commission has indicated the intention to raise the percentage of China's electricity produced by nuclear power from the current 1% to...

    , where it has been developed into the 1000 MWe CPR-1000
    CPR-1000
    The CPR-1000 is a Generation II+ pressurized water reactor, based on the French 900 MWe three cooling loop design imported in the 1990s, improved to have a net power output of 1,000 MWe and a 60 year design life....

     design:
    • 2 units at the Daya Bay Nuclear Power Plant
    • 2 units at the Ling Ao Nuclear Power Plant
    • 2 CPR-1000 at the Ling Ao Nuclear Power Plant (2 units under construction)
    • 13 other CPR-1000 under construction at various locations

1300 MWe class (P4 and P'4 designs)



There are 20 reactors of this design (four steam generators and four primary circulation pumps) operating in France. The P4 and P'4 type have some minor difference in the layout of the building, especially for the structure which contain the fuel rods and the circuitry.

1450 MWe class (N4 design)



There are only 4 of these reactors, housed at two separate sites: Civaux
Civaux Nuclear Power Plant
The Civaux Nuclear Power Plant is located in the commune of Civaux at the edge of Vienne River between Confolens and Chauvigny , and 34 km south-east of Poitiers....

 and Chooz
Chooz Nuclear Power Plant
The Chooz Nuclear Power Station lies in the municipality of Chooz in the Ardennes department, France, on the Meuse in a panhandle protruding into Belgium, between the French city of Charleville-Mézières and the Belgian municipality of Dinant....

. Construction of these reactors started between 1984 and 1991, but full commercial operation did not begin until between 2000 and 2002 because of thermal fatigue flaws in the heat removal system requiring the redesign and replacement of parts in each N4 power station. In 2003 the stations were all uprated to 1500 MWe. It is unlikely that more of this class will be built because it is expected to be succeeded by the larger 1650 MWe EPR
European Pressurized Reactor
The EPR is a third generation pressurized water reactor design. It has been designed and developed mainly by Framatome , Electricité de France in France, and Siemens AG in Germany...

 design.

1650MWe class (EPR design)


The next generation design for French reactors will be the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR), which will have a broader scope than France alone, with a pilot plant in Finland undergoing construction and with marketing activities extending to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. The first French EPR is under construction at the Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant
Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant
The Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant is located at Flamanville, Manche, France on the Cotentin Peninsula.It houses two pressurized water reactors that produce 1300 MWe each and came into service in 1986 and 1987, respectively. It produced 18.9 TWh in 2005, which amounted to 4% of the electricity...

, and should be operational in 2014. The second French EPR reactor will be built at the Penly Nuclear Power Plant
Penly Nuclear Power Plant
The Penly Nuclear power station is found some northeast of Dieppe. It lies on the border of two French municipalities: Penly and Saint-Martin-en-Campagne in the département of Seine-Maritime, Normandy, on the English Channel coast.-Data:...

, with construction starting in 2012 and completion scheduled for 2017.

This reactor is one of the newest reactor designs in the world. It was developed by Areva
Areva
AREVA is a French public multinational industrial conglomerate headquartered in the Tour Areva in Courbevoie, Paris. AREVA is mainly known for nuclear power; it also has interests in other energy projects. It was created on 3 September 2001, by the merger of Framatome , Cogema and...

 contributing its N4 reactor technology and the German company Siemens
Siemens
Siemens may refer toSiemens, a German family name carried by generations of telecommunications industrialists, including:* Werner von Siemens , inventor, founder of Siemens AG...

 contributing its Konvoi reactor technology. In keeping with the French approach of highly standardized plants and proven technology, it uses more traditional active safety systems and is more similar to current plant designs than international competitors such as the AP1000 or the ESBWR.

In 2005 EdF announced plans to replace the current nuclear plants with new 1600 MWe units as they reach the end of their licensed life, starting around 2020. This decision confirms that France is planning to continue indefinitely using nuclear power as its primary electricity source. In order to replace the current 58 reactors, one new large unit will have to be built about every year for about 40 years.

Fusion reactors


While fusion power
Fusion power
Fusion power is the power generated by nuclear fusion processes. In fusion reactions two light atomic nuclei fuse together to form a heavier nucleus . In doing so they release a comparatively large amount of energy arising from the binding energy due to the strong nuclear force which is manifested...

 is not expected to be feasible for many more decades, France has shown promise to be a forerunner in the technology by winning the bid to host the ITER
ITER
ITER is an international nuclear fusion research and engineering project, which is currently building the world's largest and most advanced experimental tokamak nuclear fusion reactor at Cadarache in the south of France...

 reactor in Cadarache
Cadarache
The CEA Cadarache facility is a French scientific research centre which specialises in nuclear energy research. It is located in the commune of Saint-Paul-lès-Durance, Bouches-du-Rhône, in the southern region of Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur...

. The ITER should start actual fusion around 2018. However, ITER does not plan to generate any commercially available energy. Instead the construction of another plant, named DEMO
DEMO
DEMO is a proposed nuclear fusion power plant that is intended to build upon the expected success of the ITER experimental nuclear fusion reactor. Whereas ITER's goal is to produce 500 megawatts of fusion power for at least 500 seconds, the goal of DEMO will be to produce at least four times that...

, will test the feasibility of commercial Fusion, before they are added to the energy supply.

Cooling


The majority of nuclear plants in France are located away from the coasts and obtain their cooling water from rivers. These plants employ cooling towers to reduce their impact on the environment. The temperature of emitted water carrying the waste heat is strictly limited by the French government, and this has proved to be problematic during recent heat waves.

4 plants, equalling 14 reactors are located on the coast:
  • Gravelines Nuclear Power Plant
    Gravelines Nuclear Power Plant
    The Gravelines Nuclear Power Station is the fifth largest nuclear power station in the world. It is located in Nord, France, approximately from Dunkerque and Calais. Its cooling water comes from the North Sea. The plant houses 6 nuclear reactors. Two entered service in 1980, two in 1981, and two...

  • Penly Nuclear Power Plant
    Penly Nuclear Power Plant
    The Penly Nuclear power station is found some northeast of Dieppe. It lies on the border of two French municipalities: Penly and Saint-Martin-en-Campagne in the département of Seine-Maritime, Normandy, on the English Channel coast.-Data:...

  • Paluel Nuclear Power Plant
    Paluel Nuclear Power Plant
    The Nuclear power station Paluel lies within the French town Paluel in Normandy in the Département Seine-Maritime. The nuclear power station, which consists of four 1330 MWe class pressurized water reactors, is about 40 kilometers far away from the city of Dieppe and employs approx. 1,250 full...

  • Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant
    Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant
    The Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant is located at Flamanville, Manche, France on the Cotentin Peninsula.It houses two pressurized water reactors that produce 1300 MWe each and came into service in 1986 and 1987, respectively. It produced 18.9 TWh in 2005, which amounted to 4% of the electricity...



These 4 get their cooling water directly from the ocean and can thus dump their waste heat directly back into the sea, which is slightly more economical.

Fuel cycle



France is one of the few countries in the world with an active nuclear reprocessing
Nuclear reprocessing
Nuclear reprocessing technology was developed to chemically separate and recover fissionable plutonium from irradiated nuclear fuel. Reprocessing serves multiple purposes, whose relative importance has changed over time. Originally reprocessing was used solely to extract plutonium for producing...

 program, with the COGEMA La Hague site
COGEMA La Hague site
The AREVA NC La Hague site is a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant of AREVA in La Hague on the French Cotentin Peninsula that currently has nearly half of the world's light water reactor spent nuclear fuel reprocessing capacity. It has been in operation since 1976, and has a capacity of about 1700...

. Enrichment work, some MOX fuel
MOX fuel
Mixed oxide fuel, commonly referred to as MOX fuel, is nuclear fuel that contains more than one oxide of fissile material. MOX fuel contains plutonium blended with natural uranium, reprocessed uranium, or depleted uranium. MOX fuel is an alternative to the low-enriched uranium fuel used in the...

 fabrication, and other activities take place at the Tricastin Nuclear Power Centre. Enrichment is completely domestic and is powered by 2/3 of the output of the nuclear plant at Tricastin. Reprocessing of fuel from other countries has been done for the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, who have expressed the desire to develop a more closed fuel cycle similar to what France has achieved. MOX fuel fabrication services have also been sold to other countries, notably to the USA for the Megatons to Megawatts Program
Megatons to Megawatts Program
The Megatons to Megawatts Program is the name given to the program that implemented the 1993 United States-Russia nonproliferation agreement to convert high-enriched uranium taken from dismantled Russian nuclear weapons into low-enriched-uranium for nuclear fuel.-Extent of program since 1995:From...

, using Plutonium
Plutonium
Plutonium is a transuranic radioactive chemical element with the chemical symbol Pu and atomic number 94. It is an actinide metal of silvery-gray appearance that tarnishes when exposed to air, forming a dull coating when oxidized. The element normally exhibits six allotropes and four oxidation...

 from dismantled nuclear weapons.

While France does not mine Uranium
Uranium
Uranium is a silvery-white metallic chemical element in the actinide series of the periodic table, with atomic number 92. It is assigned the chemical symbol U. A uranium atom has 92 protons and 92 electrons, of which 6 are valence electrons...

 for the front end of the fuel cycle domestically, French companies have various holdings in the Uranium market
Uranium market
The uranium market, like all commodity markets, has a history of volatility, moving not only with the standard forces of supply and demand, but also to whims of geopolitics. It has also evolved particularities of its own in response to the unique nature and use of this material.The only significant...

. Uranium for the French program totals 10,500 tonnes per year coming from various locations such as:
  • Canada - 4500 tU/yr
  • Niger - 3200 tU/yr


Final disposal of the high level nuclear waste is planned to be done at the Meuse/Haute Marne Underground Research Laboratory
Meuse/Haute Marne Underground Research Laboratory
The Meuse/Haute Marne Underground Research Laboratory is a laboratory located 500 metres underground in Bure in the Meuse département. It allows study of the geological formation in order to evaluate its capacity for deep geological repository of high level and long lived medium level radioactive...

 deep geological repository
Deep geological repository
A deep geological repository is a nuclear waste repository excavated deep within a stable geologic environment...

.

Accidents and incidents


Nuclear power accidents in France
Date Location Description Cost
(in millions
2006 US$)
17 October 1969 Saint-Laurent, France 50 kg of Uranium in one of the reactors at the Saint-Laurent Nuclear Power Plant
Saint-Laurent Nuclear Power Plant
The Saint-Laurent Nuclear Power Station is located in the commune of Saint-Laurent-Nouan in Loir-et-Cher on the Loire River – 28 km downstream from Blois and 30 km upstream from Orléans....

 began to melt, an event classified at 'level 4' on the International Nuclear Event Scale
International Nuclear Event Scale
The International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale was introduced in 1990 by the International Atomic Energy Agency in order to enable prompt communication of safety significance information in case of nuclear accidents....

 (INES). As of March 2011, this remains the most serious civil nuclear power accident in France.
?
25 July 1979 Saclay, France Radioactive fluids escape into drains designed for ordinary wastes, seeping into the local watershed at the Saclay BL3 Reactor 5
13 March 1980 Loir-et-Cher, France A malfunctioning cooling system fuses fuel elements together at the Saint Laurent A2 reactor, ruining the fuel assembly and forcing an extended shutdown 22
14 April 1984 Bugey, France Electrical cables fail at the command centre of the Bugey Nuclear Power Plant
Bugey Nuclear Power Plant
The Bugey Nuclear Power Station is located in Bugey in the Saint-Vulbas commune , about 30 km from the Swiss border. The site occupies 100 hectares. It is on the edge of the Rhône River, from where it gets its cooling water, and is about 30 km upstream from Lyon...

 and force a complete shutdown of one reactor
2
22 May 1986 Normandy, France A reprocessing plant at La Hague malfunctions and exposes workers to unsafe levels of radiation and forces five to be hospitalised 5
12 April 1987 Tricastin, France Tricastin fast breeder reactor leaks coolant, sodium and uranium hexachloride, injuring seven workers and contaminating water supplies 50
27 December 1999 Blayais, France An unexpectedly strong storm floods the Blayais Nuclear Power Plant
1999 Blayais Nuclear Power Plant flood
The 1999 Blayais Nuclear Power Plant flood was a flood that took place on the evening of December 27, 1999. It was caused when a combination of the tide and high winds led to the sea walls of the Blayais Nuclear Power Plant in France being overwhelmed...

, forcing an emergency shutdown after injection pumps and containment safety systems fail from water damage
55
21 January 2002 Manche, France Control systems and safety valves fail after improper installation of condensers, forcing a two-month shutdown 102
16 May 2005 Lorraine, France Sub-standard electrical cables at the Cattenom-2 nuclear reactor cause a fire in an electricity tunnel, damaging safety systems 12
13 July 2008 Tricastin, France 75 kg of natural uranium, in thousands of litres of solution, accidentally spilled on the ground and run off into a nearby river 7
12 August 2009 Gravelines, France Assembly system fails to properly eject spent fuel rods from the Gravelines Nuclear Power Plant
Gravelines Nuclear Power Plant
The Gravelines Nuclear Power Station is the fifth largest nuclear power station in the world. It is located in Nord, France, approximately from Dunkerque and Calais. Its cooling water comes from the North Sea. The plant houses 6 nuclear reactors. Two entered service in 1980, two in 1981, and two...

, causing the fuel rods to jam and the reactor to shut down
2
12 September 2011 Marcoule, France One person has been killed and four injured, one seriously, in a blast at the Marcoule Nuclear Site. The explosion took place in a furnace used to melt “low to very low grade” metallic waste, a spokesman for the safety authority said, and did not represent a nuclear accident ?


In July 2008, 18,000 litres (4,755 gallons) of uranium solution containing natural uranium
Natural uranium
Natural uranium refers to refined uranium with the same isotopic ratio as found in nature. It contains 0.7 % uranium-235, 99.3 % uranium-238, and a trace of uranium-234 by weight. In terms of the amount of radioactivity, approximately 2.2 % comes from uranium-235, 48.6 % uranium-238, and 49.2 %...

 were accidentally released from Tricastin Nuclear Power Centre. Due to cleaning and repair work the containment system for a uranium solution holding tank was not functional when the tank filled. The inflow exceeded the tank's capacity and 30 cubic metres of uranium solution leaked, with 18 cubic metres spilled on the ground. Testing found elevated uranium levels in the nearby Gaffière and Lauzon rivers. The liquid that escaped to the ground contained about 75 kg of natural uranium, which is toxic as a heavy metal, but only slightly radioactive. Estimates for the releases were initially higher, up to 360 kg of natural uranium, but revised downward later. French authorities banned the use of water from the Gaffière and Lauzon for drinking and watering of crops for 2 weeks. Swimming, water sports and fishing were also banned. This incident has been classified as Level 1 (anomaly) on the International Nuclear Event Scale
International Nuclear Event Scale
The International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale was introduced in 1990 by the International Atomic Energy Agency in order to enable prompt communication of safety significance information in case of nuclear accidents....

.

Shortly after the first incident, approximately 100 employees were exposed to minor doses of radiation (1/40 of the annual limit) due to a piping failure.

Limitations


France's nuclear reactors comprise 90 per cent of EDFs capacity and so they are used in load-following mode and some reactors close at weekends because there is no market for the electricity. This means that the capacity factor
Capacity factor
The net capacity factor or load factor of a power plant is the ratio of the actual output of a power plant over a period of time and its potential output if it had operated at full nameplate capacity the entire time...

 is low by world standards, usually in the high seventies as a percentage. This is not an ideal economic situation for nuclear plants, but is required due to the load-following nature of some reactors.

During periods of high demand EDF has been routinely "forced into the relatively expensive spot and short-term power markets because it lacks adequate peak load generating capacity".

All but four of EDFs plants are inland and require fresh water for cooling. Eleven of these 15 inland plants have cooling towers, using evaporative cooling, while the others use lake or river water directly. So in very hot summers, generation output may be restricted.

According to Stephanie Cooke
Stephanie Cooke
Stephanie S. Cooke is a journalist who began her reporting career in 1977 at the Associated Press. In 1980 she moved to McGraw-Hill in New York as a reporter for Nucleonics Week, NuclearFuel and Inside N.R.C. In 1984 she transferred to London and two years later covered the aftermath of the...

, nuclear power in France has not reduced the country's dependence on oil, as about 70 per cent of the total energy consumed in France during 2006 was still from fossil fuel
Fossil fuel
Fossil fuels are fuels formed by natural processes such as anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms. The age of the organisms and their resulting fossil fuels is typically millions of years, and sometimes exceeds 650 million years...

s.

Another critique of the French situation is that it has over-invested in nuclear, which has meant that electricity has been exported to other countries or "dumped" on the French market, encouraging the use of electricity for space heating and water heating. This can be regarded as an environmentally wasteful practice.

Seismicity



Following the 2011 Fukushima I nuclear accidents there has been an increased focus on the risks associated with seismic activity
Earthquake
An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. The seismicity, seismism or seismic activity of an area refers to the frequency, type and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time...

 in France, with particular attention focused on the Fessenheim Nuclear Power Plant
Fessenheim Nuclear Power Plant
The Fessenheim Nuclear Power Plant is located in the Fessenheim commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France, north east of the Mulhouse urban area, within of the border with Germany, and approximately from Switzerland...

.

General seismic risk in France is categorised on a five-point scale, with zone 1 being very low risk, through to zone 5 in areas with a 'very strong' risk. In Metropolitan France
Metropolitan France
Metropolitan France is the part of France located in Europe. It can also be described as mainland France or as the French mainland and the island of Corsica...

 the areas of highest risk are rated at 4, 'strong', and are located in the Pyrenees
Pyrenees
The Pyrenees is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain...

, Alps
Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

, the south of the Haut-Rhin
Haut-Rhin
Haut-Rhin is a département of the Alsace region of France, named after the Rhine river. Its name means Upper Rhine. Haut-Rhin is the smaller and less populated of the two departements of Alsace, although is still densely populated compared to the rest of France.-Subdivisions:The department...

 département, the Territoire de Belfort
Territoire de Belfort
The Territoire de Belfort is a department in the Franche-Comté region of eastern France.-Administration:Its departmental code is 90, and its prefecture is Belfort...

 and a few communes in Doubs
Doubs
Doubs is a department the Franche-Comté region of eastern France named after the Doubs River.-History:As early as the 13th century, inhabitants of the northern two-thirds of Doubs spoke the Franc-Comtois language, a dialect of Langue d'Oïl. Residents of the southern third of Doubs spoke a dialect...

. A new zoning map comes into force on May 1, 2011, which significantly increases the rating for many areas. The major nuclear research facilities at Cadarache
Cadarache
The CEA Cadarache facility is a French scientific research centre which specialises in nuclear energy research. It is located in the commune of Saint-Paul-lès-Durance, Bouches-du-Rhône, in the southern region of Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur...

 are located in a zone 4 area near the fault that caused the 1909 Lambesc earthquake
1909 Lambesc earthquake
The 1909 Lambesc earthquake occurred on June 11, 1909 in Provence. Measuring 6 on the Richter Scale, it is the largest ever recorded earthquake in metropolitan France....

, while the Marcoule
Marcoule
Marcoule Nuclear Site is a nuclear plant in the Chusclan and Codolet communes, near Bagnols-sur-Cèze in the Gard department of France, which is in the touristic, wine and agricultural Côtes-du-Rhône region...

 research centre and the nuclear power plants at Tricastin, Cruas
Cruas Nuclear Power Plant
The Cruas Nuclear Power Station is a Nuclear power plant located in Cruas and Meysse communes, Ardèche next to the Rhône River in France. The site is 35km north of Tricastin Nuclear Power Center and near the town of Montélimar....

, Saint-Alban
Saint-Alban Nuclear Power Plant
The Saint-Alban nuclear power plant is located on the Rhone river, in the Isere department 50 km upstream from Lyon in the communes of Saint-Alban-du-Rhône and Saint-Maurice-l'Exil.-Description:...

, Bugey
Bugey Nuclear Power Plant
The Bugey Nuclear Power Station is located in Bugey in the Saint-Vulbas commune , about 30 km from the Swiss border. The site occupies 100 hectares. It is on the edge of the Rhône River, from where it gets its cooling water, and is about 30 km upstream from Lyon...

 and Fessenheim
Fessenheim
Fessenheim is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.It is known for:* its hydroelectric power plant on the Grand Canal d'Alsace ;...

 (near the fault that caused the 1356 Basel earthquake
1356 Basel earthquake
The Basel earthquake of 18 October 1356 is the most significant seismological event to have occurred in Central Europe in recorded history and may have had a Mw magnitude as strong as 7.1....

) are all within zone 3. A further 6 plants lie within zone 2.

Hazard evaluation


The current process for evaluating the seismic hazard for a nuclear plant is set out in Règle Fondamentale de Sûreté (Fundamental Safety Rule) RFS 2001-01, published by the Institute for Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety
Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire
The French Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire is a public official establishment with an industrial and commercial aspect created by the AFSSE Act and by the February 22, 2002 decreed n°2002-254...

, which uses more detailed seismotectonic
Seismotectonics
Seismotectonics is the study of the relationship between the earthquakes, active tectonics and individual faults of a region. It seeks to understand which faults are responsible for seismic activity in an area by analysing a combination of regional tectonics, recent instrumentally recorded events,...

 zones. RFS 2001-01 replaced RFS I.2.c, published in 1981, however it has been criticised for continuing to require a deterministic assessment (rather than a probabilistic approach
Probabilistic risk assessment
Probabilistic risk assessment is a systematic and comprehensive methodology to evaluate risks associated with a complex engineered technological entity ....

) that relies primarily on the strongest 'historically known' earthquake near a site. This leads to a number of problems including the short period (in geological timescales
Geologic time scale
The geologic time scale provides a system of chronologic measurement relating stratigraphy to time that is used by geologists, paleontologists and other earth scientists to describe the timing and relationships between events that have occurred during the history of the Earth...

) for which there are records, the difficulty of assessing the characteristics of earthquakes that occurred prior to the use of seismometer
Seismometer
Seismometers are instruments that measure motions of the ground, including those of seismic waves generated by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other seismic sources...

s, the difficulty of identifying the existence of all earthquakes that pre-date the historic record, and ultimately the reliance on one single earthquake scenario. Other criticisms include the use of intensity
Seismic scale
A seismic scale is used to calculate and compare the severity of earthquakes....

 in the evaluation method, rather than spectral acceleration
Spectral acceleration
Spectral acceleration is a unit measured in g that describes the maximum acceleration in an earthquake on an object – specifically a damped, harmonic oscillator moving in one physical dimension...

, which is commonly used elsewhere.

Public opinion



Following the 2011 Fukushima I nuclear accidents an OpinionWay poll at the end of March found that 57% of the French population were opposed to nuclear energy in France. A TNS-Sofres poll in the days following the accident found 55% in favour of nuclear power. In 2006 BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 / GlobeScan
GlobeScan
Not to be confused with the British airline company 'Globespan' or the American semiconductor company 'Globespan'.GlobeScan is a Canadian-based company that does research and polling in public opinion as well as of private groups. It used to be known as Environics International...

 poll found 57% of the French opposed to nuclear energy.

In May 2001, an Ipsos poll found that nearly 70% of the population had a 'good opinion' of nuclear power, however 56% also preferred not to live near a nuclear plant and the same proportion thought that a 'Chernobyl-like accident
Chernobyl disaster
The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine , which was under the direct jurisdiction of the central authorities in Moscow...

' could occur in France. The same Ipsos poll revealed that 50% thought that nuclear power was the best way of solving the problem of the greenhouse effect
Greenhouse effect
The greenhouse effect is a process by which thermal radiation from a planetary surface is absorbed by atmospheric greenhouse gases, and is re-radiated in all directions. Since part of this re-radiation is back towards the surface, energy is transferred to the surface and the lower atmosphere...

, while 88% thought this was a major reason for continuing to use nuclear power.

Historically the position has generally been favourable, with around two thirds of the population strongly supporting nuclear power, while the Gaullists, the Socialist Party
Socialist Party (France)
The Socialist Party is a social-democratic political party in France and the largest party of the French centre-left. It is one of the two major contemporary political parties in France, along with the center-right Union for a Popular Movement...

 and the Communist Party were also all in favour.

When the Civaux Nuclear Power Plant
Civaux Nuclear Power Plant
The Civaux Nuclear Power Plant is located in the commune of Civaux at the edge of Vienne River between Confolens and Chauvigny , and 34 km south-east of Poitiers....

 was being constructed in 1997, it was claimed to be welcomed by the local community:
A variety of reasons were cited for the popular support; a sense of national independence and reduced reliance on foreign oil, reduction of greenhouse gases, and a cultural interest in large technological projects (like the TGV
TGV
The TGV is France's high-speed rail service, currently operated by SNCF Voyages, the long-distance rail branch of SNCF, the French national rail operator....

 and Concorde
Concorde
Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde was a turbojet-powered supersonic passenger airliner, a supersonic transport . It was a product of an Anglo-French government treaty, combining the manufacturing efforts of Aérospatiale and the British Aircraft Corporation...

).

Anti-nuclear movement



In the 1970s, an anti-nuclear movement in France, consisting of citizens' groups and political action committees, emerged. Between 1975 and 1977, some 175,000 people protested against nuclear power
Nuclear power
Nuclear power is the use of sustained nuclear fission to generate heat and electricity. Nuclear power plants provide about 6% of the world's energy and 13–14% of the world's electricity, with the U.S., France, and Japan together accounting for about 50% of nuclear generated electricity...

 in ten demonstrations.

In January 2004, up to 15,000 anti-nuclear protesters marched in Paris against a new generation of nuclear reactors, the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR). On March 17 2007, simultaneous protests, organised by Sortir du nucléaire
Sortir du nucléaire (France)
Sortir du nucléaire is a French federation of about 800 anti-nuclear groups.Founded in 1997 as a result of the success of the struggle against the Superphénix, the organisation regularly campaigns against the use of nuclear power in France and in the world.In September 2007, Sortir du nucléaire...

, were staged in 5 French towns to protest construction of EPR plants.

After Japan's 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, thousands staged anti-nuclear protests
Anti-nuclear protests
Anti-nuclear protests first emerged in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In the United Kingdom, the first Aldermaston March, organised by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, took place in 1958. In 1961, at the height of the Cold War, about 50,000 women brought together by Women Strike for Peace...

 around France, demanding reactors be closed. Protesters' demands were focused on getting France to shut its oldest nuclear power station at Fessenheim. Many people also protested at the Cattenom nuclear plant, France's second most powerful.

In November 2011, thousands of anti-nuclear protesters delayed a train carrying radioactive waste from France to Germany. Many clashes and obstructions made the journey the slowest one since the annual shipments of radioactive waste began in 1995.
Also in November 2011, a French court fined nuclear power giant Électricité de France
Électricité de France
Électricité de France S.A. is the second largest French utility company. Headquartered in Paris, France, with €65.2 billion in revenues in 2010, EDF operates a diverse portfolio of 120,000+ megawatts of generation capacity in Europe, Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.EDF is one of...

 €1.5m and jailed two senior employees for spying on Greenpeace
Greenpeace
Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over forty countries and with an international coordinating body in Amsterdam, The Netherlands...

, including hacking into Greenpeace's computer systems. Greenpeace was awarded €500,000 in damages.

Environmental impact


In 2007 Areva NC
Areva NC
Areva NC, formerly Cogema is a French company, created in 1976 from the production division of the French government's CEA It is an industrial group active in all stages of the uranium fuel cycle, including uranium mining, conversion, enrichment, spent fuel reprocessing, and recycling...

 claimed that, due to their reliance on nuclear power, France's carbon emissions per kWh are less than 1/10 that of Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 and the UK, and 1/13 that of Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

, which has no nuclear plants. Its emissions of nitrogen oxide
Nitrogen oxide
Nitrogen oxide can refer to a binary compound of oxygen and nitrogen, or a mixture of such compounds:* Nitric oxide, also known as nitrogen monoxide, , nitrogen oxide* Nitrogen dioxide , nitrogen oxide...

 and sulfur dioxide
Sulfur dioxide
Sulfur dioxide is the chemical compound with the formula . It is released by volcanoes and in various industrial processes. Since coal and petroleum often contain sulfur compounds, their combustion generates sulfur dioxide unless the sulfur compounds are removed before burning the fuel...

 have been reduced by 70% over 20 years, even though the total power output has tripled in that time.

French environmentalist Bruno Comby started the group Environmentalists For Nuclear Energy
Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy
Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy is a pro-nuclear power non-profit organization. Their website states that environmental opposition to nuclear energy is the "greatest misunderstanding and mistake of the century"....

 in 1996, and said in 2005, "If well-managed, nuclear energy is very clean, does not create polluting gases in the atmosphere, produces very little waste and does not contribute to the greenhouse effect".

See also



  • List of nuclear reactors - France
  • Politics of France
    Politics of France
    France is a semi-presidential representative democratic republic, in which the President of France is head of state and the Prime Minister of France is the head of government, and there is a pluriform, multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is...

  • Nuclear energy policy
    Nuclear energy policy
    Nuclear energy policy is a national and international policy concerning some or all aspects of nuclear energy, such as mining for nuclear fuel, extraction and processing of nuclear fuel from the ore, generating electricity by nuclear power, enriching and storing spent nuclear fuel and nuclear fuel...

  • Anti-nuclear movement in France
    Anti-nuclear movement in France
    In the 1970s, an anti-nuclear movement in France, consisting of citizens' groups and political action committees, emerged. Between 1975 and 1977, some 175,000 people protested against nuclear power in ten demonstrations....

  • Death of Sebastien Briat
    Death of Sebastien Briat
    Sébastien Briat was an anti-nuclear activist from Meuse, France who gained international media attention in 2004 when he was struck and killed by a train carrying nuclear waste near Avricourt, France, after chaining himself to the tracks while participating in a protest against nuclear power. Briat...

  • World Nuclear Industry Status Report
    World Nuclear Industry Status Report
    The World Nuclear Industry Status Report is a yearly report that explores the global challenges facing the nuclear power industry. The reports show that the share of nuclear-generated electricity in the overall global energy production has decreased in the 2000s...


Companies
  • Électricité de France
    Électricité de France
    Électricité de France S.A. is the second largest French utility company. Headquartered in Paris, France, with €65.2 billion in revenues in 2010, EDF operates a diverse portfolio of 120,000+ megawatts of generation capacity in Europe, Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.EDF is one of...

     (EdF)
  • Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique
    Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique
    The Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives or CEA, is a French “public establishment related to industrial and commercial activities” whose mission is to develop all applications of nuclear power, both civilian and military...

     (CEA)

External links