United Kingdom to build two EPR nuclear reactors

A rendition of the future Hinkley Point C nuclear plantWould you buy two examples of a very expensive and complex product that nobody has ever seen functioning ? The most likely answer is ” No “. Yet that’s exactly what the United Kingdom did buy buying Monday two EPR reactors.

The European Pressurized Reactor  is an evolution of third generation nuclear reactors. It was developed by Areva and Siemens – who since withdrew from the project – in the 1990s and 2000s.

To date, four EPR reactors are being built : one in Finland, one in France and two in China. Most of them have been plagued by significant over-costs and major problems.

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EPR costs : a blow to the nuclear renaissance

EPR nuclear reactor being built in Flamanville, FranceI have to say that I now have mixed feelings about nuclear. Since I wrote and published my 10 reasons to support nuclear – by far my most popular post on this blog – the catastrophe at Fukushima took place.

Now the main French utility – Electricité de France, aka EDF – announced that its EPR reactor in Flamanville, France, will cost a massive two billion euros more than previously forecasted, now totally 8.5 billion euros.

Until Fukushima many were forecasting a nuclear renaissance. I guess these additional costs will be another severe blow to their hopes and to EDF’s business model.

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Bad news are piling up on nuclear

Just as Grist is asking if Germany did the right move on nuclear – here is as a reminder my opinion piece on Cleantechies – several bad news for the industry of this energy source got my attention this week.

First and foremost, the reactor number 2 of Fukushima had probably experienced “spontaneous” fission “ according to an official quoted by the Agence France Presse.

Furthermore, it has been estimated that fully decommissioning Fukushima could take no less than 30 years. All this could have terrible consequences for the whole industry.

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EDF takes over British Energy for 15.7 billion €

The French national utility Electricité de France – known as EDF – is beginning to take over the UK company British Energy for an estimated cost of 15.7 billion Euros (or $23 billion).

According to the Financial Times quoted below, this is the largest international expansion plan for EDF. The company plans to build at least four nuclear plants on British soil in the next years.

This occurs as John Hutton, UK Business Secretary, says his country needs rapidly new nuclear plants to keep on answering to the increasing demand.

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