France’s State Auditor Says EDF’s Nuclear Costs Are Increasing

Posted by NucNet on 27 May 2014 in NucNet

EDF’s costs to produce nuclear power from its fleet of 58 nuclear reactors in France are increasing as investment needed to keep aging reactors safe over the next two decades could reach 90 billion euros (EUR) (123 billion US dollars), the state auditor said.

“Production costs from the existing fleet are heading higher over the medium- term,” France’s Cour des Comptes said in a report to parliament published today.

The report, which updates findings in a January 2012 report, said that in 2012 the Court calculated the cost of production of the current fleet for 2010, which amounted to EUR 49.5 per megawatt-hour.

Using the same method for the year 2013 the cost was EUR 59.8/MWh, an increase of 20.6 percent over three years.

The higher production costs were driven by increased operating costs at EDF as well as provisions for future dismantling of nuclear installations and waste treatment, the report said.

EDF’s investment needs were estimated in the report at EUR 62.5 billion between 2011 and 2025, with about half of spending between 2014 and 2025 on safety. Investment over a longer period until 2033 is estimated at EUR 90 billion if all 58 reactors are allowed to function for more than 40 years.

Spending on measures ordered by France’s regulator, the French nuclear safety authority ASN (Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire; ASN), following the 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi accident in Japan will cost about EUR 11 billion between this year and 2025, the auditor said. Efforts to align safety at existing reactors with new generation models will cost another EUR 1.6 billion a year over the same period.

In February 2014, EDF presented France’s parliament with details of a EUR 55 billion reactor life extension programme, saying the “major overhaul” of the company’s nuclear fleet would be concluded by 2025.

EDF senior vice-president Dominique Miniere told a parliamentary committee investigating the cost of nuclear power plant life extensions and safety measures that the programme will include EUR 15 billion to replace heavy components within its nuclear fleet, EUR 10 billion on post-Fukushima modifications and EUR 10 billion to boost safety against external events.

EUR 20 billion is being allocated to improve reactor safety during scheduled outages and decadal surveys conducted by ASN, Mr Miniere said. He said EDF wants to extend the life of its reactors beyond 40 years.

President Francois Hollande wants to reduce France’s share of nuclear power in electricity generation from around 75 percent today to 50 percent by 2025, starting with the shutdown of the two oldest reactors at Fessenheim by the end of 2016.