France completes closure of Fessenheim plant: Corporate


June 30, 2020

The French public service EDF has shut down unit 2 of the Fessenheim nuclear power plant in eastern France. Its closure, as well as that of Unit 1 in February, was necessary under the country’s energy transition law before EDF could put new nuclear capacities online.
The two-unit plant in Fessenheim will now go into dismantling (Image: EDF)

Nuclear represents nearly 75% of France’s electricity production, but former French President Fran├žois Hollande said he aimed to limit his share of the national electricity production mix to 50% by 2025 , and to shut down Fessenheim – the country’s oldest nuclear power plant – by the end of its five-year term in May 2017. In June 2014, its government announced that capacity would be capped at the current level of 63.2 GWe and limited to 50% of total production in France by 2025. French energy transition for green growth The law, adopted in August 2015, did not provide for the closure of the power reactors currently in service, but that meant that EDF should shut down the old reactors in order to put new ones online.

The two 880 MWe pressurized water reactors at Fessenheim have been in operation since 1977 and 1978, respectively. Unit 1 was disconnected from the power grid on February 22, ending 42 years of low-carbon electricity production from reactor. Unit 2 was disconnected from the grid at 11:00 p.m. yesterday before it was scheduled to close today.

EDF started construction of a 1650 MWe EPR unit in Flamanville in December 2007, with commercial operation initially planned for 2013. The loading of fuel into the core of the Flamanville EPR – the hot tests of which have been completed in February – is now scheduled for the end of 2022. EDF must therefore close the equivalent capacity to start operating the Flamanville unit. According to a decree published on March 27, the first fuel must be loaded by April 2024 at the latest.

In his election, President Emmanuel Macron promised to respect Hollande’s goal. However, he said French cuts to nuclear power must be at a pace that allows the country to maintain its energy sovereignty. In a speech given in November 2018 at the Elysee Palace to clarify France’s energy transition, Macron said that 14 reactors with a capacity of 900 MWe will be closed by 2035. He said that the Fessenheim plant – near the German border – would close in spring 2020.

As part of an energy and climate bill presented in May of last year, France will now delay its planned reduction in the share of nuclear power in its electricity mix to 50% of the current 2025 target to 2035.

The French Nuclear Energy Society (SFEN) called on the government to set up a monitoring system to measure the climatic, social and economic impacts of the closure of Fessenheim in the coming years in order to inform future decisions. reactor shutdown. In a press release yesterday, SFEN said: “In view of the current context, it can be said today that the closure of the Fessenheim factory seems to be a decision with terrible consequences for industrial employment, the fight against global warming and the resilience of our electrical system. “

Research and writing by World Nuclear News


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