A BASELESS DECISION AND A SAD DAY FOR CLIMATE
Updated: Feb 24, 2020
22 February 2020. This date marks the permanent closure of the first of two reactors at the nuclear power plant in Fessenheim, eastern France. The second plant is scheduled to be shut down on 30 June. A total of 24 reactors are to be shut down in France by 2035.
The decision to close the plants was not based on any technical consideration, nor on issues of safety or economics. It was a political decision reflecting - and further encouraging - an ideology based upon ignorance and fear.
The Fessenheim plant was modelled on the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station in Pennsylvania, USA. Both were originally licensed to run for 40 years, but Beaver Valley’s license has been renewed for an additional 40 years. The French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) recently gave Fessenheim an excellent health rating. Why was Fessenheim’s life not extended?
The reactor's production, about 5 TWh per year of electricity with practically zero carbon emissions, will be replaced by electricity with a carbon content of about 460 g CO2 per kWh (European mean). The French government's decision to close the plant will lead to the emission of more than 2 million tonnes CO2 per year. Shutting down just one reactor at the Fessenheim power plant amounts to replacing all the electric vehicles currently in use in Europe by gasoline-fueled vehicles.
Ironically, the energy shortfall will be compensated by postponing the scheduled shutdown of the coal fired plant at Cordemais until 2026.
Meanwhile, Germany is commissioning a new coal-fired power station in Datteln. The German "Energiewende" (energy transition) has resulted in additional CO2 emissions of tens of millions of tons.
The closure of Fessenheim endangers the security of the electricity supply in France and Europe. France will not meet its CO2 emissions reduction goals.
The closures are the result of a law passed in 2015 ordaining the reduction of the nuclear component of electricity in France to be reduced from 75% (70% now) down to 50%. One would have to look very hard to find a rational explanation for this requirement.
The actual, historical reason may have its roots in the run-up to the French Presidential election of 2012, when the Socialist party (PS) needed votes, and the fiercely anti-nuclear green party (EELV) could supply them.
Nuclear plant workers, citizens of Fessenheim and some environmental groups gathered to say farewell to the plant. Myrto Tripathi for the Voices of Nuclear summed it up:
Young people from all over Europe came here today to tell you about the Nuclear Pride Coalition. It’s an international coalition of environmentalists who are getting together all over the world to defend nuclear energy as an essential piece of that fight against climate change that we want for ourselves and for generations to come.
Amardeo Sarma, an Ecomodernist from Germany, deplored:
It’s very sad to see a source of clean power being closed, especially as we have such a huge problem with the climate. It is completely irresponsible for the French government to close this nuclear power plant.
The IPCC, the UN, the International Agency of Energy all say we need to stop coal and keep nuclear energy going. We have to double today’s nuclear fleet, indeed multiply it by 6.
And we’re closing one?? How does that make any sense to anyone?
This plant closing is a problem for all of us.
The Nuclear Pride Coalition bears were there, of course.
The Association des Ecologistes Pour le Nucléaire (Environmentalists For Nuclear Energy) has filed a legal complaint for political manoeuvres against the public interest.
Fessenheim Nuclear Reactor Permanent Shutdown - An Immense Waste for the Climate and for the Country
Summary and extracts of the complaint filed by Environmentalists For Nuclear Energy
against the French government’s decision to shut down the Fessenheim nuclear power plant
Plainte contre X au sujet de la fermeture de la centrale nucléaire de Fessenheim
Fermeture de Fessenheim : vers une fragilisation à long terme des compétences de la filière nucléaire et notamment pour la construction des futurs EPR
Fessenheim : l’exécution d’une promesse à 10 milliards d’euros
Fermeture de Fessenheim : une forfaiture
La fermeture de Fessenheim entraînera des émissions additionnelles de l’ordre de 10 millions de tonnes de CO2 par an