French Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot on Monday said that the country could close 17 nuclear reactors within the next eight years, honoring a commitment made by the previous national administration to reduce nuclear power from 77 percent to 50 percent of the country's electricity generation mix.
France has 58 commercial reactors in operation with a capacity of 63.2 GWe, producing 436 TWh of electricity. Many of these were built during the late 1970s and 1980s as a reaction to high oil prices. In the summer of 2015, however, the government under former President Francois Hollande passed the Energy Transition Act for Green Growth, which targeted a reduction to 50 percent, partly as a reaction to the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Generating Station in Japan.
Monday was the first time a government official named a number of nuclear plants that would have to close to meet the government's objectives.
According to the World Nuclear Association, France has three types of Pressurized Water Reactors (PWR) in operation, including 34 three-loop 900 GWe models, 20 four-loop 1300 MWe P4 models and four 1450 MWe N4 models. The average age for their fleet is 32 years, although 34 reactors were granted license extensions of 10 years in 2002, while 20 more (the 1300 MWe reactors) were granted 10 year extensions in 2006.
The Environment Minster did not name specific reactors, but reactor age certainly be considered when the list is implemented. Of the 58 operating reactors in the country, three began operations before 1980 (Bugey Units 2, 3 and 4; and Fessenheim units 1 and 2). Twenty-nine were made operational in prior to 1985: (Triscastin uinits 1 through 4; Saint Laurent B units 1 and 2; Gravelines units 1 through 4; Dampierre units 1 through 4, Cruas Unit 1 and 3; Chinon B units 1 and 2, Bugey Unit 5; and Blayais units 1 through 4). An additional 14 started operations prior to 1990 (Cattenom units 1 and 2; Chinon B Unit 3; Cruas units 2 and 4; Flamanville Unit 1; Gravelines units 5 and 6; Paluel units 1 through 4; and Saint Alban units 1 and 2.)
Of the rest, six were commissioned in the 1990s and four have been commissioned in this century.
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