Friday, May 04, 2007

Double-Checking The Nuclear Numbers in France

They had a presidential debate in France last night, and the moderator asked the two candidates how much of France's electricity was generated by nuclear power:

Both candidates stumbled on the question of nuclear power. [Nicolas] Sarkozy, 52, said nuclear plants produce 50 percent of the country's electricity. [Segolene] Royal put the number at 17 percent. Last year, 78 percent of French power production was nuclear, according to the industry ministry. Nuclear accounts for about 17 percent of total energy consumption.
For more on the French nuclear program, click here.


Joffan said...

I had a hard time believing that 78% nuclear electricity translates to 17% total energy...

This site indicates a figure I can more easily believe (graph 9), of 41% nuclear proportion of total energy.

NNadir said...


I really can't believe it. A basic question about one of the most important industries in France and neither Presidential candidate knows what is happening?

I hope which ever of them becomes President will be surrounded with people who can educate them.

NNadir said...

Joffran: I'm going to steal this link. It's great!

Anonymous said...

78% of French total generation (549.4 TWH's) comes from nuclear (426 TWH's). But, 76 nuclear TWH's are exported (net exports are 68 TWH's, but that includes a subtraction of 8 TWH's by imports), so 350 nuclear TWH's are consumed by the French, comprising 72.5% of French electrical consumption (482 TWH's).

Further, the average capacity factor for French nuclear is about 77%, with exports. Without exports that factor would be about 63%. Without imports it would be even lower, in order to handle the daytime peak, perhaps around 60%.

French nuclear power becomes much more economical if it's part of a larger system, which can help match it's output to demand. In that way nuclear is quite similar to wind power.

bw said...

I was wanting to send a contact to Nadir and the contributors/editors of NEU nuclear notes abut could not find contact info.

I wanted to get your feedback on the article that I had written here
about linking energy policy with transportation policy

My apologies for using the comments as means of contact


Brian wang
blwang at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

I don't think nuclear (even French nuclear) is similar to wind, for one very important reason. Matching demand or not, there's no way aroiund the fact that wind capacity factor is really quite low compared with nuclear. Last I checked, wind was running about 25-30% CF. That doesn't match up well with the 77% CF for the French units, or the 90+% for the US fleet.

Anonymous said...

" there's no way aroiund the fact that wind capacity factor is really quite low compared with nuclear."

Nuclear is designed to have a capacity factor of roughly 90%, so 77% causes a proportionate excess cost per KWH. On-shore wind is designed to have a capacity factor in the range of 30%, so if you get 30% that's not a problem.