Discussing Energy Economics on the Internet

Nuclear Europe, Round N

Posted in France,Nuclear,UK by Cheryl Morgan on the July 4th, 2011

At the end of last week the UK government found itself with considerable egg on its face when someone leaked a bunch of emails showing that the Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne, was apparently colluding with the nuclear industry to put a positive spin on the Fukushima disaster in order to forestall public unease about new nuclear build in the UK.

Huhne is a member of the minority Liberal Democrat party in the Uk government. His party colleagues are largely anti-nuclear, and permission for LibDem MPs to abstain on any votes on the issue was specifically negotiated as part of the coalition agreement. Understandably Mr. Huhne’s party colleagues are not best pleased with him.

Meanwhile the French have run into their own problems. The nuclear safety inspections I mentioned last week turned up 32 separate safety concerns at EDF’s Tricastin plant in Drôme in the Rhône valley. Two days later the plant obligingly suffered an explosion, sending a thick cloud of black smoke into the sky. The problem was not associated with the reactors, and French police have confirmed that no radioactivity has been released into the environment. Nevertheless, the British newspapers are making a meal of the story. Doubtless their colleagues around Europe are doing the same.

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Sarkozy Invests

Posted in France,Nuclear,Renewables by Cheryl Morgan on the June 28th, 2011

The weirdly political nature of energy industry news coverage was made clear again yesterday in reaction to a speech by President Sarkozy of France. That the French are investing €1bn in nuclear power should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed their energy policy over the years. M. Sarkozy is quoted by The Guardian as saying, “There is no alternative to nuclear energy today.”

Except that there obviously is, because in the same speech M. Sarkozy announced a €1.3bn investment in renewables. Somewhere, I am sure, there will someone reporting with horror that the French are spending more money on renewables than on nuclear, but the vast majority of newspapers appear to have concentrated on the nuclear story.

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Italy Joins New Nuke Club

Posted in France,Italy,Nuclear by Cheryl Morgan on the February 25th, 2009

Prime Minister Berlusconi and President Sarkozy have signed an agreement that will see EdF and Enel collaborate on the construction of at least four new nuclear power stations in Italy. The first plant is expected to be online in 2020. This is despite a referendum in 1987 that saw Italy close all operational nuclear plants in the country. EurActive has more details.

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Is Nuclear Green?

Posted in Climate,France,Nuclear by Cheryl Morgan on the September 26th, 2008

In the wake of EdF’s (planned) purchase of British Energy, Oliver Morton tackles the issue of whether nuclear energy will indeed lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions. He notes that between 1977 and 2003 the amount of nuclear generation in France grew by 4000%, and yet:

According to the Stern review fossil fuel emissions in France during the 25 years of that 4000% increase fell, on average, by less than 1% a year. Emissions from the generating sector dropped 6% a year, which is about 80% over the 25 years, which is great — but the rest of the economy kept growing and burning fossil fuels in cars and heating systems and factories and all that.

Looking at the chart he used for generation data, it appears that the growth in nuclear generation accounted for all of the growth in electricity consumption, while other fuel sources remained roughly constant. Obviously if nuclear were to replace existing generation then things would be rather different.

But then again, nukes are not very flexible plants. You have to have some flexible generation in your mix. Looking at Morton’s data (which is from Wikipedia and which I haven’t checked), less than 20% of France’s generation comes from non-nuclear sources. How much lower could that go, and still have the system remain manageable?

On/Off – And Not Just the Deal

Posted in France,Nuclear,UK by Cheryl Morgan on the September 19th, 2008

There have been a few rumblings this week that the EdF/BE deal is back on again. This has been going on for so long that I would not have even mentioned it were it not for the fact that the whole rationale for an EdF takeover is their expertise in running nuclear power stations, and Platts has just reported that 17 of their 58 nukes, representing some 29% of capacity, are currently offline for various reasons.

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