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11 Comments

  1. France in early June, I am eaten with envy – the ideal season to visit that part of the world. I hope you managed to indulge yourself in some of the other pleasures of the region beyond the nuclear scene.

  2. I had one very enjoyable day walking around Paris after a jet lag curing nap. I enjoyed the scenery from the trains and buses and got up early one morning to go for a nice walk on the Normandy coast. We also had an afternoon tour of Avignon. Other than that, it was a pretty well focused business trip without much time for sightseeing.

  3. Sounds like a great trip. Wish we could get some US politicians to take the same trip. Many people in the US view the French as a bunch of pansy, left-wingers. The fact that they generate their electricity with nuclear power has always been confusing for them. In the US where everything has to fit in the culture wars, ‘left-wingers’ who support nuclear is contradictory.
    By the way, I believe I read that France closed it’s last coal plant recently, so there is no generation of electricity with coal in France.

  4. Rod, it was an amazing trip. I plan to write a thank-you post, and you beat me to it for sure.
    DV82XL. Rod needs less sleep than the rest of us,and he did a fair amount of walking. For most of us, there wasn’t enough time to see much of France. We had one non-nuclear sight-seeing expedition: the Pope’s palace in Avignon. It was wonderful to realize that we could be a country where we saw the most advanced nuclear facility making MOX fuel in the morning, and then a huge beautiful palace circa 1360 in the afternoon.
    The food was always amazing. Once in a while, we were traveling too fast and hard to eat…came to town too late, when the restaurants were closed, for example. When we ate, the food was superb. I don’t usually need a fish knife at lunch, for example. And who ever has a cheese course? And these funny little cookies, light as air, not madeleines, something else…what were they?
    I am grateful to Areva for the inspiring trip of a lifetime.

  5. Follow Rod’s link to the info page for Areva’s Flamanville EPR reactor, and some interesting facts are listed. In particular, the “Key Milestones” section shows the timeline for design, licensing and construction. Construction began in 2007 and commercial operation will commence in 2012 — five years from groundbreaking to delivery. Including time for design, public debate, and permitting add two more years, or seven years total.
    This amazing schedule seems to undercut the argument that nuclear power inherently takes too long to build if we are to respond to CO2 buildup in a timely manner. Also, my perception — which could of course be incorrect — is that the French licensing and construction processes are more rigorous and standardized than the U.S. processes, and therefore safer.

      1. While we were there, the Areva rep mentioned that the sister plant in Finland, which is first of a kind, is having a cost overrun, but the question is..compared to what? If you promise to build a 1600 MWe plant for 4 billion euros and it is first-of-a-kind and has a ?50%? cost over-run…you are still building a very big nuclear plant for around 6 billion euros, a VERY competitive price. And that one was first-of-a-kind. Rod takes better notes and could perhaps give firmer numbers here, but that’s the general idea and ballpark costs.

  6. it’s a bit of a shame that you didn’t get to do more sightseeing, especially if you were down the Rhone valley in Avignon. I hope they at least made sure you got some Chateauneuf du Pape? The wines down that way are my favourites, and I’ve sampled a lot of French wines!

  7. Thanks for an interesting travelog. I wish I could have join the trip.
    Here in Finland we have a bit different opinion about Areva. This:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olkiluoto_Nuclear_Power_Plant
    Okiluoto 3, similar EPR to Flamville, delayed for four years, cost overruns for who knows how many billion. It is however a key-turn-delivery from Areva, but it has caused too much “fun” for Greenpeace and others. It’s now easy for them to say that a NPP can not be build in schedule and in budged.

    1. Kai L. – I am sure that it is disappointing that the performance at Okiluoto 3 has not been as promised, but the numbers are not as bad as some report and not all of the fault lies with the reactor vendor. For example, a large delay was caused during the concrete pouring part of the construction process; that was the contracted responsibility of a local contractor.
      Construction on Ok 3 started in May 2005. Based on what I have learned, the overrun is currently estimated at about $2 billion. The total price tag should be something close to $6 billion. Commercial operation is expected to begin in 2013, giving a construction duration of approximately 8 years. That is not terrible for a first of a kind 1630 MWe nuclear plant.
      The overall disappointment in Finland cannot be too bad; I believe that the government has authorized the construction of at least two more plants.
      http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf76.html
      There certainly has been a lot of discussion about the cost overruns, but Greenpeace and others do not really need any facts upon which to make outrageous claims against nuclear energy. If the facts do not support their case, they simply make stuff up. If you want a good example of that, I recommend the recent TED talk discussion featuring Stewart Brand telling the truth while Mark Jacobson put up graphs “proving” that renewable energy could be made to provide reliable power that matched demand almost exactly.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UK8ccWSZkic

  8. Rod, I totally agree with you. The problem is that environmentalists are keeping such a big noise that their lies are affecting ordinary people and public opinion. There is no difference between nuclear opponents from Greenpeace and climate skeptics. Both respects the scientific facts just as much.
    Yes, the government has authorized the construction of two more plants but it must still be accepted by the parliament. It should be voted for within a few weeks. The Green party is in the government. After the government gave their permission the environmentalists organized an anti-nuclear demonstration. The green ministers joined the demonstration, so they were opposing the decision they were self making in the government. (Pretty absurd, yeah?) There is a strong lobbying campaign going on at the moment on both sides. I wish these kind of important decision could me bade in a sense of scientific facts but that seems to be impossible in our world. China is proceeding better in this field. Much better.
    1600 MW plant in 8 years is not bad. It should be generating about 13 TWh / year. That

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