Europe is on the ropes. The enormous increase in the cost of electricity and gas in recent months, and which we consumers are perceiving so clearly, reflects the magnitude of the energy crisis in which the whole of Europe is plunged. In addition, this situation is especially dangerous in the current context of climate emergency in which we find ourselves.
The United Kingdom and, above all, France, are two of the countries in our neighborhood that advocate nuclear energy as a fundamental ingredient in the recipe that seeks to respond to our energy needs, and, at the same time, reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. Even so, nuclear energy has been at the center of the debate for several decades, maintained not only by experts, but also by public opinion.
Nuclear energy has been at the center of the debate for several decades, maintained not only by experts, but also by public opinion
And it is positive that this is so because a well-founded and respectful discussion on the part of both positions is a very valuable tool in the search for an energy model that meets the needs of citizens. Nuclear energy is permanently in the spotlight, but in recent days it is attracting attention with a renewed impetus because of what is happening in France.
Our trans-Pyrenean neighbor is the second country in the world to have the most nuclear reactors, only behind the United States, and has recently been forced to cut its generation forecasts nuclear power in the short term. This decision entails a consequence that we cannot ignore: it will be forced to burn more coal than it had planned to alleviate this energy deficit, which has instigated critics of nuclear energy to raise their voices again.
Nuclear power plants are not intermittent, but require maintenance
The progressive shutdown of its nuclear power plants in which Germany has embarked (and which Spain is also planning) has forced this Central European country to increase the use of fossil fuels (gas and coal) to meet its energy needs. The situation in France is very different from that in Germany because, as we have just seen, your bet in favor of nuclear energy is very solid, but this is precisely what is causing criticism grows against the French strategy.
Nuclear power plants produce electricity constantly, but require periodic preventive and corrective maintenance tasks.
And it is that EDF (French Electricity), which is the French public company that produces the most electricity in all of Europe, and the second in the entire planet only behind the Asian China Energy Investment, confirmed a few hours ago that it has been forced to revise down its production of electricity of nuclear origin by 2022. This decision is due to the fact that five of the reactors of its nuclear park that are currently in the shutdown phase to carry out maintenance tasks are going to be reviewed for longer than this company had initially planned to ensure that they can continue to operate safely.
Nuclear power plants produce electricity constantly, but, of course, they require carrying out preventive and corrective maintenance tasks periodicals, as Alfredo García, better known on Twitter as nuclear operator, during the conversation we had with him several months ago:
“A nuclear power plant operates for eighteen months on average non-stop, and during this period of time maintenance is also carried out. Most of the equipment is duplicated, tripled or quadrupled, so while one of them is working we carry out the review and preventive or corrective maintenance of one of its reserves».
Another important reason why nuclear power plants have to shut down every year and a half or so is that part of their fuel needs to be renewed. These recharging and maintenance stops usually last between a month and a half and two months, but when it is necessary to carry out some type of corrective maintenance, as has happened to EDF, this time can be increased. And in the context of the energy crisis in which we find ourselves, there is no other choice but to resort to other sources of energy. Ideally they should be renewable, but this is not always possible. The debate continues on the table.
Cover Image | Nuclear Forum