Skip to main content

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.

Popular posts from this blog

A Billion Miles Under Nuclear Energy (Updated)

And the winner is…Cassini-Huygens, in triple overtime.

The spaceship conceived in 1982 and launched fifteen years later, will crash into Saturn on September 15, after a mission of 19 years and 355 days, powered by the audacity and technical prowess of scientists and engineers from 17 different countries, and 72 pounds of plutonium.

The mission was so successful that it was extended three times; it was intended to last only until 2008.

Since April, the ship has been continuing to orbit Saturn, swinging through the 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings, an area not previously explored. This is a good maneuver for a spaceship nearing the end of its mission, since colliding with a rock could end things early.

Cassini will dive a little deeper and plunge toward Saturn’s surface, where it will transmit data until it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. The radio signal will arrive here early Friday morning, Eastern time. A NASA video explains.

In the years since Cassini has launc…

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.


The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.

What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…