Emmanuel Macron denounces 'cynicism' of Nupes in fiery clash
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French President Emmanuel Macron is facing a major crisis, as two of EDF’s nuclear reactors will delay restarting due to corrosion problems. According to French reports, two other reactors also shut down for corrosion problems, bringing the total number of reactors facing this issue up to 15. Over the past year, France has faced a relatively unique energy crisis when compared to other countries in Europe. The country is not heavily dependent on natural gas, Russian or otherwise, getting most of its energy supplies from nuclear power, which generates 70 percent of the country’s electricity.
However, Paris has been forced to shut down many French reactors, amidst reports that warned Mr Macron of significant corrosion safety problems in EDF nuclear power plants in France after cracks were detected in some nuclear reactors.
The two reactors, Penly 2 in Seine-Maritime and Cattenom 3 in Moselle, were already shut down for inspections. While they were set to be over the next few weeks, these flaws meant that the sites would remain shut down for at least until next year.
According to franceinfo, these are among the most powerful reactors in France’s nuclear fleet, generating 1,330 and 1,300 MW of electricity.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Dr Paul Dorfman, an associate Fellow at SPRU University of Sussex said: “There’s a real mess across the channel.
“Right now, 28 French EDF reactors are offline due to corrosion safety problems. EDF is essentially bankrupt due to 43billon euro (£37.7billion) debts, facing up to a 100billion euro (£97.6billion) bill for French reactor life-extensions, all of which has forced Macron to fully nationalise EDF, to the detriment of the French economy.”
He warned that all of these have a “very real implication” for the UK, as EDF is currently building at Hinkley Point C and is looking to build at Sizewell C.
He added: “Also, EDF is at this moment trying to activate a ‘contingency option’ part of their contract with UK Government to avoid over-cost and over-time penalties for EDF new build at Hinkley Point C.
“Basically, the French EDF EPR reactor is vastly over-cost and over-time everywhere, even in France. Not a good look.”
These crisese plaguing EDF has forced the company to announce on Thursday, that it lowering its forecasted nuclear production for 2022 from 280-300 TWh to 275-285 TWh (terawatt hours).
This was in particular due to “the extension of the duration of the shutdown of four nuclear reactors concerned by the programme of checks and repairs of the phenomenon of stress corrosion”.
The French energy giant, which has had almost half of reactors go offline due to maintenance or corrosion problems, also blamed the strikes it faced this autmun, which they say had an impact “on the maintenance shutdown schedules”.
Previously speaking to Express.co.uk, Dr Bernard Laponche, the co-author of this study warned that in many of these reactors, cracks to cooling systems could cause devastating accidents.
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He said: “If the defects are detected in or near the welds, or near the junction between these and the primary cooling circuit cause a breach in the cooling system with an important loss of water, this can lead to the partial or total melting of the fuel assemblies in the reactor core. That means the possibility of a Three Mile Island or a Fukushima-type accident.”
This comes, the UK’s desire to become a nuclear powerhouse has hit a huge bump in the road as plans for the Sizewell C plant in Suffolk, which could one day provide low-carbon power for six million homes, are under review and are even at risk of being delayed or abandoned entirely.
The proposed 3.2-gigawatt plant, which the Government first announced plans in 2009, could be axed as Westminster mulls over spending cuts to fill the black hole in Treasury finances.
A Government official told the BBC: “We are reviewing every major project – including Sizewell C.”
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