Study Shows France's Possible Spent Fuel Storage Future

A study done by the L’Institut de Radioprotection et de Surete Nucleaire (IRSN) in France reiterated the country’s regulatory position that mixed-oxide fuel will help keep the country’s spent fuel storage “in balance.” The data challenges the country’s envisioned diminished role of nuclear power in the future.

nuclear power in FranceThe study released 24 October, walked through four storage scenarios under a variety of fuel use conditions in the nation’s nuclear power plants.

EDF, France’s nuclear power operator, used a baseline scenario that held onto current production of 420TWh/year that assumed two additional reactors – with no reactors shutting down – would deploy MOX fuel, bringing the number from 22 to 24. With that scenario, current capacities for spent fuel storage would be maxed out in 2030 or shortly after that.

The second scenario under consideration envisioned a decrease of nuclear generation to 408 TWh/year with the same addition of two reactors using MOX fuel. In addition, two units would be closed down under this scenario, which left storage capacity full close to 2025.

EDF then studied the outcomes that would develop should nuclear power be decreased significantly with the loss of 19 reactors, 13 of which burned MOX fuel.

That scenario, according to Nuclear Engineering International, would result in fuel storage reaching capacity within five years of the first reactor’s shutdown.

That scenario assumed production dropping to 360 TWh/year.

In the final scenario, with production declining to 288 TWh/year, assuming France selected out 15 reactors with capacities of 1300MWe,

“Given the unavoidable delays in the development of industrial projects, the need to create new spent fuel storage facilities or transport packaging is sufficiently anticipated,” the study says.

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