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Two European Nuclear Reactors Come On Stream

nuclear power plant

Two third-generation nuclear power reactors are slated to begin operation this year in Finland and France, after years of delays and budget overruns, S&P Platts’ Henry Edwardes-Evans reports.

The Finnish project is the Olkiluoto-3 reactor, which will bring the country’s total nuclear reactor capacity to five, and will add 1.6 GW to the national nuclear power generation capacity. Edwardes-Evans notes this project is 2.5 times over budget and comes on stream with a ten year’s delay. The unit will start this year but only reach full capacity in 2020.

In France, energy giant EDF is gearing up for the launch of its Flamanville-3 reactor, which ended up costing the company US$12.3 billion (10.9 billion euro). This project was eight years longer than initially planned.

The Flamanville-3 reactor is planned to have sixty years of productive life but, Edwardes-Evans notes, there are already problems with it: anomalies have been found in an essential component of the reactor and these may lead to the need to replace this component in just a few years.

Then there’s the Hinkley Point plant in the UK, which has become globally infamous for various problems, including security concerns because of the participation of Chinese firms in the EDF-led project. Hinkley, however, is not slated to come online until 2025, as per the French utility’s plans.

The two projects in France and Finland suggest, however, that despite its growing aversion to nuclear power and the embracing of renewables, Europe still cannot rely entirely on solar, wind, and hydro, especially as coal power plants get retired in droves.

Just last year, Edwardes-Evans says, European utilities retired more than 15 GW in coal power generation capacity, which was only partially replaced by gas-fired facilities to the tune of 3 GW. At the same time, 24 GW of wind and solar generation capacity was installed, but since it has not been evenly distributed among European consumers, some countries still remain dependent on electricity imports.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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  • Matthys on January 03 2019 said:
    Various items comes to mind about this article. First, the EPR plant in Finland is truely the first-of-a-kind next generation PWR reactor to be built by a Foreign consortuim in Finland. Of safety, the IAEA recently commented that it is the safest reactor ever to be constructed, with a designed life of 60 years, with a planned availability factor of 94% (approx) annually. The nuclear industry truely faces the challenges of the slowdown of nuclear new built projects globally after the first wave of built projects in 1970s to 1990s, and a "generation swing" were a lot of experience leaves the industry. This is evident with the project challenges of the projects under construction in Europe. However, the fact that the latest Gen III PWR plants have been successfully commissioned in China, demonstrates the feasibilty of the technology, and their availability and ability to generate stable, safe, reliable (and near CO2-emmissions) base-load power for the next 60 years will now be proven.
    Yes, it is a fact that the world is moving away from polluting sources of power generation, and Europe indeed faces challenges due to the lack of un-baised (towards intermittent, small scale renewables) investment in base-load power generation. This lack of underinvestment will lead to rising electricity prices (even spikes), with its associated impact on inflation for the next years to come. Renewables are good to be used when viable (considering availability and total cost of integration into the system over the life cycle). However, it is not wise to baisely consider large scale renewable as the "silver bullet" to our electricity needs. Look at how the social experiment is busy unfolding in Germany. Rising energy prices, coupled with rising reliance on coal- and gas fired generating assets for peak-demand response and grid stabilization shows that renewable energy must be properly integrated into the grid system, with sufficient backup power source in reserve. Not to mentoin the constant reliance on energy imports from EDF in the winter to make up for the gap left by renewables.
    Good reporting of the facts and a fair evaluation of all energy sources without baise will be much appreciated, as it is our duty to protect the environment and provide for a sustainanble future!

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