The legacy of the Fessenheim nuclear power plant in northeastern France is coming to a close with the first of the plant’s two units shutting down on 22 February. The plant’s owner, EDF, said the reactor, after 42 years of service, was shut down at 2 a.m. with the plant also disconnected from the electricity grid.
The plant has become a political football in recent years. In 2012, former French President Francois Hollande announced he would have the plant closed down in 2017.
In June of 2016, however, EDF requested compensation for the early closure of the plant and a deal was settled in August. It was then announced that the plant would close in order to comply with the country’s partial retreat from nuclear power. To reach new targets for nuclear power in the electricity generation mix, it was decided the plant would close concurrent with the start up of Flamanville Unit 3, which is nearing completion.
In years past, France could boast that nuclear fuel’s contribution to the country’s electricity generation was at 75 percent. The new target is for nuclear power to supply 50 percent of the country’s electricity. To do that, nuclear power would be capped at 63.2 GWe, according to the World Nuclear Association.
The second pressurized water reactor at Fessenheim, Unit 2, is scheduled for its final shut down in June 2020.
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