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article imageSome question the plan to close some French nuclear power plants

By Karen Graham     Jun 12, 2017 in Technology
Paris - French environment and energy minister Nicolas Hulot told reporters at the G7 Environmental Summit on Monday that France plans to close some nuclear reactors of state-controlled utility, EDF to reduce nuclear's share in the country's power mix.
Hulot gave no timeline for the closings, saying it was too early to even give numbers at this time. He did say France wanted to reduce nuclear's share from 75 percent of the energy mix to 50 percent, adding, "We are going to close some nuclear reactors and it won't be just a symbolic move," reports Reuters.
Shares of Electricite de France (EDF) were down 0.8 percent on the stock market before the announcement but immediately dropped further to 2.2 percent lower after Hulot's remarks. When asked about a carbon tax, Hulot replied that France already has one that they increase every year. "At an EU level we want to increase the threshold," he said.
Hulot's predecessor, environment minister Segolene Royal said in May 2016 that France would introduce a carbon price floor of about 30 euros ($33) a ton with the intention to kick-start broader EU action on reaching the Paris Climate Accord emissions reduction effort.
The Cattenom nuclear power plant in Cattenom  north-eastern France
The Cattenom nuclear power plant in Cattenom, north-eastern France
Jean-Christophe Verhaegen, AFP/File
Needless to say, the Socialist government quickly dropped the plan after unions protested the tax would lead to coal plant shutdowns. But EDF's Chief Executive, Jean-Bernard Levy has repeatedly asked for a minimum carbon tax of 30 to 40 euros a ton in France and the EU, saying it would be a boost to the company's carbon-free nuclear power stations.
While the idea of phasing out France's nuclear power plants may seem to be a good idea, especially with French President Emmanuel Macron planning on replacing them with solar and wind energy, some experts are saying the plan doesn't hold water.
Dr. Jeff Terry, a professor of nuclear physics involved in energy research at the Illinois Institute of Technology, told the Daily Caller the plan is not very sound.
“They’re replacing low carbon energy with low carbon energy that requires backup 65 to 85 percent of the time. Everywhere that nuclear is closed it gets replaced by natural gas. That means France will probably get dirtier,” Terry said. It should also be mentioned that because of a law passed in November last year in France, EDF will be required to close as many as 18 to 20 of its 58 nuclear reactors by 2025.
“From a climate change perspective this almost certainly won’t work out well,” Terry said. “If you look at the numbers for Europe, France is always below the rest of the continent in emissions and is already a very low carbon emitter.”
And the Times of India points out that with the summer maintenance season coming on full-swing, France's nuclear reactors will be straining to keep up with electrical power demand, especially with a hot summer in the forecast and the increased use of air-conditioning expected.
More about frnace, Nuclear power plants, Carbon tax, Emissions, Global warming
 
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