Hollande’s proposed “cap” on nuclear electricity capacity

France’s President Francois Hollande and his Socialist Party ran on a platform that included scaling back France’s dependence on nuclear energy. It was not a very popular part of his campaign pitch, but Sarkozy was such a flawed candidate that Hollande won anyway.

Hollande is trying to follow through on his promise, but there are large numbers of well-connected and resourced people who oppose the idea. A few days ago, French Energy Minister Segolene Royal introduced a proposed piece of energy legislation that would, among other things, attempt to cap the total capacity of nuclear power plants in France at 63.2 GWe, which is the current level.

Though I believe that the proposal has little chance of being passed in anything resembling its current form, it is something that needs to be watched. My hope is that there will be strong and well organized resistance to the idea from a wide swath of French industry and consumers who will be harmed by artificially restricting the country’s ability to improve on its current nuclear generating fleet and its proven ability to find substantial export markets for the clean, ultra-low emission, reliable electricity that its nuclear plants can produce.

Electricity is a wonderful export product; most customers are repeat customers whose purchases will naturally increase over time if they are happy with the pricing and service, there is no inventory to maintain and there is no burden placed on roads, ports, or airports. Nuclear technology and operational expertise is also a valuable export product; France is one of the few Western nations that has maintained its skills and capabilities in this area — though there is plenty of room for improvement as it gains experience in the newest generation of nuclear power plants.

In 2012, Gail Luft, writing for the Journal of Energy Security, published an article titled France: Can the ‘Lumiere de Monde’ Risk a Brown-Out? that points out some of the considerations that the French people should keep in mind as they discuss and resist Hollande’s ill-considered attempt to hamstring such an important part of his country’s economic base. Here is an example quote, but there are many additional items in the original article.

One option for Hollande is to use his anti-nuclear stance as a way to endear himself to Berlin. After the disaster in Japan, Germany was the first European country to announce its plan to bid farewell to nuclear power and move aggressively towards green power. Adopting a similar stance would be music to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ears particularly as the two leaders will be looking for issues on which they can agree. But one hopes that Hollande knows that even the winds of Normandy and the sun of Provence will not come close to replacing nuclear power. France’s installed capacity for photovoltaic power is about 100 times less than Germany’s, and the French economy is not sufficiently prosperous to embark on massive subsidization of renewable energy, as its northern and southern neighbors, Germany and Spain have done in recent years. Furthermore, by now Europeans like Americans have come to realize the false promise of green jobs as a major driver of economic growth. With unemployment above 10% France does not have the luxury of dismantling the 30,000-job nuclear industry without replacing it with an equally labor intensive one.

It is probably possible to trace some of the Socialist Party funding to Russian natural gas interests. Russia loves its own nukes, but spends quite a bit of time and money spreading propaganda (FUD) about the nuclear programs in its customer and competitor nations. France’s domestic nuclear plants help to keep it independent of Russian gas, and France’s nuclear electricity exports help its neighbors reduce their purchases of Russian gas.

The unreliables industry is also well known for its complaints that nuclear “crowds” them out of the market. They are working hard to force middle-aged nuclear plants to shut down merely because they were initially licensed for 40 years. That period has nothing to do with the design life or the ability of well-maintained nuclear heated steam plants to last at least as long as coal, oil or gas-fired steam plants.

It is interesting to note that many information sources that target the unreliables industry (which prefers to brand itself as the “renewables industry”) have covered the proposed legislation as a done deal, with phrasing like the following:

France will cap nuclear power and aim for renewable energy to make up 40 percent of its electricity production by 2030 (less than 20 percent now), 38 percent of heat consumption and 15 percent in the transport sector, according to a new energy bill, writes Reuters. France will also boost energy savings. For example, a tax credit will be introduced for renovation work carried out.

(Emphasis added.)

None of those proposed actions will be implemented when the bill is soundly defeated.

The fight will be messy because there are massive financial stakes associated with the decision. My hope, however, is that the full strength of the established and entrepreneurial nuclear industry and all associated interested parties will be brought to the battle for hearts, minds and wallets.

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47 Responses to “Hollande’s proposed “cap” on nuclear electricity capacity”

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  1. George Carty says:

    Hollande desperately wants to introduce a policy of economic stimulus to do something about France’s terrible unemployment problem, but is unable to do so because he is hamstrung by the Eurozone’s restrictions.

    As seen in the recent European Parliament elections, the far-right Front National has been able to take advantage of this with their promise to quit the Euro (which would reopen the stimulus option, as well as allowing France to devalue and thus improve its competitiveness). The Front National vote is very closely correlated geographically with the unemployment rate (far more so than it is correlated with the non-white population, for example).

    I suspect Hollande’s anti-nuclear policy is motivated first and foremost by a desire to appease Germany, in the hope that Merkel would soften her anti-stimulus stance and allow Hollande to attack unemployment in France.

    • John Chatelle says:

      @george: “I suspect Hollande’s anti-nuclear policy is motivated first and foremost by a desire to appease Germany, in the hope that Merkel would soften her anti-stimulus stance and allow Hollande to attack unemployment in France.”

      The idea that fission should be limited is nevertheless branded on the French Psyche. The proposal that fissioning should be limited seems reasonable to much of the public because in their minds eye, such a dynamic (and controversial) power source as fissioning (AKA “Nuclear”) has a replacement in wonderful sunshine and breezes.

      Any proposal to limit fissioning at some current or past level should be met with a parallel proposal to limit Carbon Combustion at the same levels and rates. Such a proposal could be a “rider” on the same bill that would limit Fissioning. Lets let sunshine and breezes replace both Carbon Combustion and Fissioning at equal levels.

      It’d be interesting to see where the views of various “environmental” organizations fall in *that* debate. Such a debate would help reveal to people that it’s more about embracing, extending and milking the current state of affairs than it is about resolving climate change issues.

      • Rick Armknecht says:

        John,

        I would like to see that.
        Hoisting the arrogant on their own petards is always a delight.

  2. Wayne SW says:

    I suspect that it is just talk to appease his “green” supporters. Hollande must know that this and similar proposals have very little support among the French labor unions. And union support, like taxation, is the very lifeblood of the socialist party, much more so than “green” support. Without massive support from labor unions, this ill-conceived plan will likely go nowhere. Germany and Spain have cut their economic throats going all-in on unreliables. The French better heed that lesson.

    • George Carty says:

      Actually the German economy is doing very well — they are using their mammoth trade surplus to force the Southern European countries to foot the bill of their renewable energy experiment.

      • Wayne SW says:

        Actually I think it is because they have replaced their nuclear capacity with coal, and they have plenty of dirty brown coal (lignite). So they can use that as backup when their unreliables can’t carry the load, and it gives the appearance (illusion) that everything is working great. Great, until they look around at a ruined environment and poisoned atmosphere.

        • jmdesp says:

          Yes, that’s totally correct. At huge investment expense, they have introduced in the last few years several GW of very efficient lignite plants.
          Lignite is cheap at start, but with a higher efficiency ratio like those brand new plant, with the ability to efficiently follow load, and finally with carbon credits that are worth nothing, the marginal cost of their production is extremely low, which makes them the only profit earner in the German market currently.
          Even hard coal barely earns money, and the profitability of their remaining nuclear plant is not very good, which mean the utility are currently hardly in the mood to fight the future planned shutdowns. The next nuclear plant might very well be shutdown around 6 month earlier than the German law demands, as it will require a fuel reload at that time that the remaining time after will not allow to use profitably.

          • Wayne SW says:

            So how does all that coal burning affect their per capita output of carbon to the biosphere? Or do they care?

  3. EL says:

    BBC provides two other motivating factors for the legislation in France (which seems to have broad public backing and some political support), and also why change comes slow in France (for some of the same social and political considerations cited here).

    1) Energy diversification: “France realised that Japan had survived economically when all its atomic power stations were shut down because of its diverse energy mix. In Japan, before the disaster, nuclear power delivered about 30% of the country’s electricity, but France is hugely dependent not only on nuclear, but on a single generation of nuclear power stations.”

    2) Competitiveness: “… by concentrating on nuclear power France has slipped behind on rival technologies like wind, solar and biomass and it must now take steps to catch up quickly. ‘We were very good 20 years ago with solar concentration,’ she says. ‘We are now nowhere. We concentrated all our efforts on one side.’ If France does not create a market for renewable energy it will never be competitive in the sector, she says – while its nuclear industry could still be powerful even in 2050, even under the Hollande plan.”

    A bit broader than simply greens and coalition politics. Some wish to see labor picture (and new business and market opportunities) improve in France (rather than fall further behind and stagnate). They also see adding new domestic energy sources as lowering risk profile for country and adding to security, stability, and energy independence goals (with a long social history in France). We’ll see how the debate shakes out (and whether change is in the mix, or whether France sticks with status quo and decides more of the same).

    • Eino says:

      Maybe their rationale can be clarified:

      “Energy diversification: “France realised that Japan had survived economically when all its atomic power stations were shut down because of its diverse energy mix.”

      The thing that doesn’t work for me on this one is that Japan had one problem plant due to the tidal wave. It has never made sense to me that they had to shut them all down. This is like throwing the baby out with the bath water. I think there would be few realistic common mode scenarios where all of France’s nuke plants would need to be shut down.

      However, I do understand the need for diversity. If natural gas plants continue to dominate in the US, we may find a common mode problem of a natural gas shortage one day. When this happens – no lights and no heat. Really bad day.

      “Competitiveness: “… by concentrating on nuclear power France has slipped behind on rival technologies like wind, solar and biomass and it must now take steps to catch up quickly.” I don’t think the electrons care which power source is energizing the lines. I also don’t think iit is an either or choice. You can continue to build nukes and biomass. Each has advantages. Neither produces additional additional net carbon dioxide.

      To compete could also mean selling this technology to others. The quoted statement would make sense if you are marketing these products, but it seems that France would be better off to make and sell the products that so many other nations are not making and selling. There are many niche markets out there that could be exported and would better serve the French people. Attempting to build wind turbines, solar panels, and other equipment may put them in competition with countries that have lower labor rates and existing manufacturing facilities such as China. Filling new needs would put them at the head of the pack.

      France seems to be doing well with nukes. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

      • John says:

        I note that, while China dominates the solar panel industry, France is still selling nuclear reactors to China. Indeed I just read that AREVA was part of the team that was supervising the construction of the first Chinese reactor pressure vessel. Of course one might argue that this means that the Chinese will one day no longer need to buy French expertise. But by then solar panels may well be made in Bangladesh. I agree with you. France would be foolish to discard its nuclear industry.
        Interestingly, I have noticed a continual push to obtain approval for fracking in France. I understand AREVA strongly supported the claim that it’s a more polluting form of power than nukes, and of course it does emit more radiation per kilowatt, as well as the chemical carcinogens produced by combustion. While, in theory, France could sell its gas to Germany and the UK (the UK is buying expensive LNG from Qatar), as well as using it to produce synthetic oil if they could dodge the EU subsidy regulations, once the gas companies got a toe in the door, I’m sure they’d use it to have all the nukes they could shuttered. For this reason, I believe the French would be wise to retain their fracking ban.

    • Eamon says:

      We get the same reasoning in Japan: if only we had invested in renewables…we would be world leaders! It is flawed logic. No nation has a guarantee to be a world leader in any given field of endeavour, and often it is best to stick to what you’re good at. For France, this would be nuclear.

    • Rick Armknecht says:

      EL: “by concentrating on nuclear power France has slipped behind on rival technologies like wind, solar and biomass and it must now take steps to catch up quickly”

      It is really difficult to seriously regard wind, solar and biomass as “rival” technologies to nuclear power in electricity generation. If some breakthrough tech in those fields arises, then I could understand the premise. If some French scientist has a practical idea in one of those fields, then I would understand and expect funding to achieve that breakthrough. In the meantime, nuclear power is one of the few things that France has been doing right over the past few decades and it is odd that they should seek to limit that success.

      • poa says:

        If history is an indicator, concerning new energy technologies, then “breakthroughs” are inevitable. Just look at the evolution of the battery.

        This pessimism, and seeming hostility, concerning the so called “renewables” is one of the things I find so hard to empathize with when considering the pro nuke argument.

        • Rod Adams says:

          @poa

          I do not have any hostility to the wind and sun. I love them both. They are wonderful resources when available.

          My hostility is directed towards what I consider to be the unethical marketers of enormous collection systems with the promise that they can somehow be made reliable energy sources. Those promises assume either the invention of a magical electricity storage system or massive overbuilding along with only partially loaded, large transmission systems that someone else is obligated to build.

          You’ve expressed some distrust of large corporations and their money in politics — you do realize, I hope, that GE is both one of the largest contributors to the current Administration AND a large supplier of wind energy collectors, high efficiency lighting and smart grid technology. Siemens, Iberdrola, and Vestas are similarly involved in politics both here and in the EU and in the manufacturing of wind collection systems.

          As far as pessimism goes, I trace it to my submarine engineer officer training. We are trained to be pessimistic. We always check and recheck our plans and calculations. Murphy is our guru; if something can go wrong, it will. Our response to that reality is to either make sure nothing can go wrong or to build contingency plans to survive when they do go wrong.

          An optimistic operating engineer has a better than average chance of contributing to the demise of his ship.

          • poa says:

            Personally, I know windfarm management that are convinced they are on the cutting edge of energy evolution, and that they are doing a service to mankind. You may agree, or disagree, but these people do not deserve hostility, and their optimism bodes well for the technology. It is that optimism that will fuel innovation. Yes, the corporate machine may be everything you say it is, but the same can probably be said about the heavy hitters behind NE. But I hope you take tome to realize that some of those toiling in the “renewable” industry are driven by the same kind of idealism that drives your efforts. Give them their due respect, if you expect the same. On a personal level, I sincerely hope that any, and all, technologies that lessen our reliance on fossil fuels evolve and become viable alternatives.

          • Rod Adams says:

            @POA

            It is that optimism that will fuel innovation.

            In my experience, innovators are usually those who are frustrated with the status quo. I know that is what drove me to be an innovator with Adams Engines and what still drives me to work as hard as I do to change the world.

            Perhaps it is valid to say that many innovators are pissed off optimists who know that things could be better than they are.

        • Engineer-Poet says:

          This pessimism, and seeming hostility, concerning the so called “renewables” is one of the things I find so hard to empathize with when considering the pro nuke argument.

          Maybe this video would help you understand.  (James Hansen reports the same thing from in-person interactions.)

          The total bad faith from advocates of renewables, purporting to have the solution to problems they are manifestly failing to solve (at great expense), are grounds to condemn them regardless of where you stand.  Those who have the real, proven solution have the best grounds of all, of course.

          • Rick Armknecht says:

            What puzzles me is how my post could be classified as “pessimistic” when half of my post considered the possibility of a breakthrough technology.
            I just don’t see a country as “falling behind” when it is not spending money on a currently inferior method of electricity generation.
            As I said before: fund research that shows real promise. One tech that looks very interesting (and would make “biomass” a real player) is advanced carbon fuel cells.
            You are not against such research, right?

          • poa says:

            Rick….

            My response was not targeted at your comment exclusively. It was a general response, attempting to address the general “flavor” here.

    • Joris van Dorp says:

      I spent some time reading about France’s rather interesting history of nuclear development years ago. One of the things that really intrigued me was the somewhat serious problem of maintaining the nuclear workforce during their short but intense nuclear build programme in the previous century. France noticed that since nuclear power provides so much power so quickly, there was a serious risk of boom-bust cycles , and they tried all sorts of things to try to manage the investment and operation planning in order to prevent such cycles from occurring. In effect, I guess, nuclear power worked TOO WELL for France, as far as building and maintaining a nuclear labor force was concerned.

      I guess that is a ‘problem’ of nuclear power: By the time you have a good sized and experienced workforce, all your electricity generation problems are pretty much solved and there is little for this workforce to do except operate and maintain facilities that can last for a century.

      Contrast this with the insiduous ‘green’ propaganda surrounding certain kinds of renewable energy, particularly the hollow promises of ‘green jobs’ in the solar and wind ‘industry’. The only reason solar and wind power DO in fact promise lots of jobs (albeit heavily subsidised jobs of course) is because once you tie your fate to having solar and wind power at high penetrations, you are going to be spending massive amounts of resources on building, maintaining and scrapping them on a permanent basis! They only last a couple of decades at best and require far more materials and land than nuclear. And you are still going to need all your original stable generation capacity on the side, in order to maintain power supply during windless, sunless days and nights.

      So sure: if you want to ‘create jobs’ in the energy sector, then unreliables are the way to go. But if you want clean and cheap power (which necessarily comes at the ‘cost’ of having ‘more jobs’ in the energy sector) then nuclear power seems to be the obvious choice.

  4. Dogmug says:

    Although France has a ban on fracking, a whole lot of shale gas has recently been discovered. Hollande seems to be pulling yet another Trojan Horse for Big Gas — and given both the cynicism of Gazprom/Putin and demand from China, there is likely to be a need-based reversal of (political) pressure soon.

    “France has massive shale gas potential, with 137 trillion cubic feet of recoverable shale gas, as estimated by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In Europe that’s second in potential only to Poland.”
    China-Russia Gas Deal Should Unleash A Euro-Fracking Revolution (Forbes 5/21/2014)

    But I doubt that France’s nuclear infrastructure will suffer. It’s too popular. There may be a gas-and-renewables industry-driven hiatus for a few years, but the nukes are there to stay. IMHO, of course.

    And no matter what France’s domestic energy status may be, if they have exploitable gas reserves in a gas-starved Europe, they well develop them.

  5. Kroll says:

    The Fracking ban shows that lobby is stronger in France than Reason. You might not like Methane as an energy source, but it is nearly irreplaceble as a chemical raw material. France has no strong chemical industry. Or actually no strong energy intense industry exept a few companys.
    What is really troubling are the long term plans. 2030 will have 40% CO2 Emmissions cut, 50% Nukl, 40% Renewables. 2050 will Have Total Energy produktion reduced to 50%… so its only 25% nukes left by 2050… maybe 35% elektro cars succed. The rest of the industry either cant get more efficient, or cant switch to elektricity (many houses are heated by elektricity already). so the main Reduction will be in clean elektricity production.
    The goals of this policy are impossible to achiewie without reducing the already smal French industry, and lowerind the life standards of French people. Some even argue that this is the primarely motivation for this flawed pollicy (the greens always preached we have to be happy with less, apparently even if we can easily have more).
    The goals for reducing energy consumption are propagated by the eu, and apply to all countries, even those producing most elektricity from hydro. Clearly CO2 Reduction is not the only goal of the energy transition. The green reedukation of the entire european popullation is.
    If you see this as the main motivation of a large part of the EU Parlament, a lot of the things that are hapening right now make sense.
    Germany is one of the worst behaving coutries in Europe. Its highly subsidized elektricity doesnt stop at the borders but affects the prices of elektricity markets of all its neighbours. the prices get below zero when wind blows and sun shines, and skyrocket when they dont, usually during winter, but not for long enough to recover the loses. Even Swiss hydro reduces output and fires people as a consequence, aborting new hydro plants and thinking about scraping existing dams. Not to mention Industry and consumers suffering from rising total prices. Only exeption the German industry getting special subsidies, and as a consequence performing well.
    France neighbours Spain, making this problem even worse for them. nuklear will face hard times either way, just as any stable elektricity source does…

  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “It was not a very popular part of his campaign pitch…….”

    Why do you assume so, Rod? According to an article I read in today’s Los Angeles Times, (Sunday), polling has determined that 80% of the French public are anti-nuke, and would like to see dependence on NE scaled back. I don’t have the article in front of me. Did I read it wrong?

    • Rod Adams says:

      @POA

      Here is a link to a Bloomberg article describing the results of a public opinion poll taken last year in France that reports only 14% of the population is opposed to nuclear energy and only 41% who say that France should take action to reduce its dependence on nuclear energy (that appears to be a response indicating a desire for more diversification.)

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-22/french-support-for-nuclear-power-rises-ahead-of-law-poll-shows.html

      • PissedOffAmerican says:

        Yikes! I just reread the article, and must have early onset senility, alzhiemers, and LSD Flashback Syndrome all at once. Heres the quote from which I drew my fantasy…

        “But environmentalists note that popular opinion in France is strongly against fracking —– as high as 80%. Thats greater than the opposition to nuclear energy, which provides most of France’s electricity.”

        But hey, man, I got the 80% right! I mean, gee, not bad for eating waffles and reading at the same time, eh?

  7. Jagdish says:

    France took a revolutionary step in the 1970’s by opting for nuclear energy in a big way. However, the innovation stagnated with the challenges to the fast reactors. The EPR is a picture of stagnation as the world’s most costly reactor design. The renewables are a good pretext to licking the wounds while thinking of the next big thing.
    A good, cost effective design would be a molten salt fueled, water cooled reduced moderation economical reactor. It would be basically a water tube boiler with molten salt nuclear fuel in the main drum with water in tubes as a moderator-coolant. Safety features will always suggest themselves. Only high pressure engineering will be heat transfer tubes imported inside the core. Chemical action risk of sodium-water in fast reactors should also be avoided.

    • Rick Armknecht says:

      A nice design concept. It would be great if the water tubes could be substantially constructed with Be. Has anyone developed it much beyond your description?

  8. Joris van Dorp says:

    Rather off topic, but I wonder, Mr. Adams, if you have noticed the following article, which seems to align nicely with your stated suspicion (or conclusion?) that Russia is actively promoting anti-nuclear FUD.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jun/19/russia-secretly-working-with-environmentalists-to-oppose-fracking?commentpage=1

    Apparently, NATO has uncovered a plot by Russia to negatively influence public opinion of fracking in the EU in order to support demand for Russian gas exports. It is but a small step to suppose that Russia is probably also involved in anti-nuclear propaganda in the EU. I think this is a very interesting story and I hope that NATO will come out with more information on this. Specifically, it would be very interesting if NATO also confirmed the role of Russia in supporting European anti-nuclear groups.

    • SteveK9 says:

      Exactly the opposite. There is no country in the World more active or committed to exporting Nuclear Power than Russia. Here is just one article (order book for next 10 years — 100 Billion USD):

      http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/C-Rosatom-targets-growth-0306141.html

      The number of countries where Russia is either building plants or there are concrete plans is a long one,

      Bangladesh, Belarus, China, Finland, Hungary, India, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Venezuela, and Jordan (I’m probably missing some).

      Their ‘Build Own Operate’ approach is very beneficial for expansion of Nuclear Power. The finance, build, and run the plant for some set number of years and collect some or all of the profit, then turn the plant over to the country of origin. This is a win-win for everyone (including the planet).

      They make more money from natural gas, and would even under these schemes but that is not preventing them doing business with countries that SPECIFICALLY want to reduce their reliance on Russian gas, like Turkey.

      • SteveK9 says:

        Forgot Iran.

        Also, Russia provides contracts to supply fuel and to repatriate spent fuel (they are probably one of the few countries that realize this stuff is not ‘waste’ but is valuable). It’s really hard to beat the Russian deal. Their technology is considered on a par with the best in the world now. The IAEA designated the power station at Tianwan, the safest in the World.

      • SteveK9 says:

        Right now Westinghouse is pretty much carrying the ball for us, alone. They are doing as good a good job as one company can do, I think. I hope they will be getting a big new order from China soon. Although domestic (China) content is growing there, there is still some money to be made for them. Also, the more of the AP1000 plants that are built the easier it will be to sell more. Might get a big order from the Saudi’s soon … politics helps there.

        Our own government is basically run by people with money now, and I doubt they see big money in nuclear at present …

      • Rod Adams says:

        @SteveK9

        Russia promotes antinuclear FUD in those countries that most likely will not purchase Russian nuclear plants, but have no qualms about buying Russian natural gas.

        They probably have a legitimate reason for doing that – after all, GE, Westinghouse, Areva, Toshiba and Hitachi spent a lot of time and money promoting anti-Russian nuclear FUD after Chernobyl.

        The RBMK design was not fatally flawed; after all it was not that much different from the ‘N’ reactor operating in the US.

        Of course, when you have a guy in charge who purposely puts the plant into an unstable condition, turns off all of the safety features, and forces panel operators to keep proceeding down a path that was making them nervous, you can turn almost any machine into a dangerous device.

        • Eino says:

          With Russia having so many sales of reactors abroad, are they developing newer types of reactors? I often hear about China doing a lot of development, but not Russia.

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            Russia is working on both sodium-cooled and PbBi-cooled reactors.  There are BN-800s under construction in both Russia and China.

          • Rod Adams says:

            @Eino

            Russia is smart enough to know they have a good product that should be refined and improved via evolution and practice.

            Many revolutionary reactor technologies are merely distractions. Some, of course, have great potential and need to be developed through the same evolutionary process of incremental improvements and practice.

  9. SteveK9 says:

    This is going to be an important year for French Nuclear Power. Why? Because the first EPR at Taishan will be powered up this year. Although starting years behind Finland and France the Chinese EPR is going to be first operational unit. The engineer in charge made a humorous comment last week, that they expected to be able to use the lessons from Finland and France, but now they are the ones breaking ground and doing things first. I think they are proud of that and have every reason to be.

    There will probably be an order for 2 more EPR’s at Taishan soon (the overall plan is to have 6 EPRs at the site).

    I’m not a big fan of the EPR, since it seems to be overly complicated. But, it does generate a lot of power 1700 MWe. The Taishan plant will be putting out energy on a massive scale when it is completed.

  10. Paul W Primavera says:

    Hollande is a socialist, and like all socialists he believes in constricting the energy supply, restricting health care access, controlling the public education, and disarming the people. It is no coincidence that what he does in putting limits around the use of nuclear energy in France benefits Russian natural gas – Stalin and Khrushchev would be very pleased. Pope Leo XIII on Socialism: Quod Apostolici Muneris – as true today as in 1878 when it was written:

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/leo_xiii/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_28121878_quod-apostolici-muneris_en.html

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Paul Primavera

      You have an incorrect understanding of the socialists position on education, energy and health care. Perhaps our resident Socialist – Dave Walters – will stop by and provide a more complete elaboration of what socialists favor in regard to those three important issues.

      You do a good job of telling us about the official positions of the Roman Catholic church and providing links, my hope is that Dave can do the same thing with regard to at least one branch of Socialism.

    • George Carty says:

      I assume that when Pope Leo XIII wrote of “socialism” he was actually referring to Marxism — and Marxism (especially in its Leninist form — whose “vanguard party” doctrine is practically a manifesto for tyranny) does have multiple major flaws.

      However, isn’t free market capitalism also highly inimical to traditional values? For example, you can’t really have traditional families if the average man cannot earn enough money to support a family — this is now the case due to globalization (which repressed wages) and the aging population (which forced up house prices, as homeowners see their houses as investments and act politically to push up their value).

      Didn’t many Catholics advocate their own economic system called “distributism”, rejecting both free-market capitalism and Marxist socialism?

    • Freedom_First says:

      “…like all socialists he believes in constricting the energy supply, restricting health care access, controlling the public education, and disarming the people.”

      Very accurate description. Socialists, communists, fascists, and democrats are all collectivists who have respect for individual rights. The individual must submit to the group or else he will be crushed like a bug. All collectivists agree that government indoctrination (public schools) should be mandatory. Likewise, Health care, energy production, guns, and just about everything else should be tightly controlled. Collectivism is thousands of pages of laws, rules, taxes, regulations, licences, fees, permits, and mandates. Freedom means that there are only three laws, not three million.

  11. David Walters says:

    Thank you Rod for ‘tagging’ me so I could comment.

    As usual Paul has his facts wrong. I’ve explained in the past, here and in other venues, the actual history and program of the French Socialist Party. Let’s review:

    During WWII, the hetergenous French Resistance (Communists, Socialists, supporters of De Gaule based in the UK) agreed to some post war changes as demanded by the people of France. The big industrialists (not all, but enough) were collaborators with the Occupation. As such, the private owners of the large private utilities and industrialists (Renault, for one) were nationalized for these crimes. Additionally, as the post-war gov’t plodded along there was impatience with the the speed of these ‘reforms’ and many many strikes broke out, dominating the French domestic scene from 1946 through 1947.

    The gov’t was *forced* by dint of overwhelming action to set up EDF (for electricity generation and distribution), a complete nationalization of the rail system and other nationalizations. These were immensely popular. As it happens there was almost no comment from the French Roman Catholic Church though, it should be pointed out, that the Church helped set up it’s own union movement which…also supported the nationalizations and didn’t oppose them!

    EDF as we know went on to build the most robust grid in all of Europe bar nun. By using what was effectively a popular socialist program (though the Socialists never ran France until 1981) everyone, including the right sectors, supported EDF, created in about 10 years the highest penetration of nuclear energy in the world. They effectively ended the burning of oil for generation (spurred on by the 1973 OPEC oil boycott though this was actually an acceleration of plans already laid by EDF).

    It should be pointed out that opposite of what Paul says, the French education system (basically FREE through graduate school!) and their health plans, from from “restricting” health access vastly expanded it and, of course, made it both free and…cheap to run, unlike, for example, the massive Catholic health care system we have in the U.S. (and along with all others). The French health care system, basically a ‘single-payer’ system like in Canada but far more expansive (not only do women get months of paid leave to have children — something you’d think the ‘pro-family’ Church would get behind — but they provide IN HOME visitations by OBGYs and pediatricians both before and after a child comes into the world! The U.S. is only one of 3 countries in the world that denies this basic human right!)

    During the end of the French Socialist president Mitterand rule and the subsequent right gov’ts, much of EDF was privatized. When France built it’s massive nuclear grid, it was a vertically integrated system of planning, construction and operations. The building of the EPR in Flamesville is essentially a privatized affair of competing in-experienced sub-contractors not one of whom has any experience in building nukes. The slow reversal, acquiesced by socialists has resulted in an increase in expenses in building nukes in France now and some of the unions, such as the CGT-FO and wings of the CGT unions are asking for renationalisation of what technically is already a nationalized utility, the EDF.

    Personally, the idea expressed by Paul (and his view does not reflect modern French Catholic thought on this unfortunately) that the French nuclear cap helps the Russians sell gas is accurate though what it really has done is to boost up gas fracking IN France and Holland, and this is a serious issue.

    The shift…to the right (the only way I can put it) on nuclear by the socialists is very unfortunate. As others have pointed out…what is needed is a mass movement to reignite interest in *expanding* not contracting nuclear. This will never come, unfortunately, from the organized French Catholic church but will have to come from the working class, specially the “secular” trade unions who have the capability and self-interest to push back in favor of nuclear. As all progressive developments since WWII (and before) originate in the secular and, indeed, the long tradition of French anti-Clericism going back to the French Revolution and not the Church, part of French society.

    David Walters

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