March 20, 2018, Berlin – During his state visit to India, France’s President Macron agreed with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week to sell six French EPR reactors for the largest nuclear power plant planned in Jaitapur. Regardless of the fact that India has not yet signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The plutonium from the reactors could be completely used for the construction of nuclear weapons without international control. In terms of energy, too, all EPR construction projects in recent years are highly problematic.
The European Pressurized Reactor (EPR), proclaimed in the 1990s as a new impetus for the renaissance the European nuclear industry, proved to be a financial disaster, fulfilling none of the industry promises, a new brief by the Energy Watch Group shows.
The EPR construction sites in Flamanville (France), Olkiluoto (Finland) and Hinkley Point C (UK) are exemplary of the failed nuclear industry with no single EPR having been completed to date. All existing EPR projects are characterized by years of commissioning delays, grave technical and security problems and exploding construction costs of up to tens of billions Euros.
The further construction of these reactors was secured only by means of multi-billion Euro state rescue packages. As a result, nuclear companies, especially the French AREVA and EDF, are increasingly under pressure and risk of bankruptcy as it was in the case of the US-Japanese company Westinghouse.
“The promises of “inherently safe” EPR reactors did not materialize and turned into a heavy burden to European taxpayers. It is time to immediately end all new nuclear energy projects and phase-out the existing ones, ” President of the Energy Watch Group Hans-Josef Fell and co-author of the brief said. “Renewable energy sources are the safest and financially better solution today. There is no longer any single reason to rely on or invest in nuclear energy.”
“The security threats of the aging European nuclear reactor fleet are constantly increasing. The new generation of EPR reactors even worsens security and financial risks for the population. Old and new flaws are closely interwoven, as the nuclear triangle Fessenheim-Flamanville-Hinkley Point clearly shows”, Eva Stegen, independent energy consultant, working for the electricity provider EWS Schönau, and co-author of the brief said.
The Energy Watch Group brief “The disaster of the European nuclear industry” documents the following disastrous developments in the EPR construction sites and nuclear as a whole in the European Union:
- As of today, none of the EPR construction projects in the EU was completed. The EPR reactor in Hinkley Point C (the UK), which was due to provide first electricity by Christmas 2017, was postponed until 2027. The EPR project in Flamanville (France), which was due in 2012, was postponed until 2020. The Olkiluoto site in Finland is over 12 years behind its initial schedule.
- All EPR projects are characterized by massive cost overruns. The original cost estimates of 3 billion Euros have now more than tripled to about 10.5 billion Euros at Flamanville and 8.5 billion Euros at Olkiluoto.
- As of today, EDF has accumulated a debt of 61 billion Euros and AREVA 10 billion Euros in debt. The French state had to grant AREVA 4.5 billion Euros as state aid, EDF could only be rescued by a 3 billion Euros capital increase.
- By February 2013 the costs of nuclear clean up of the Sellafield site had amounted to nearly £ 70 billion. Every year about £1.6 billion are added on top.
- An unpublished British government study has shown that wind and solar power would generate electricity at half the cost of the planned Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant.
- The driving force behind the UK government’s affinity to nuclear technology is the cross-subsidization of the military nuclear program. A study by University of Sussex has proved in detail, what is openly communicated by the military, but vehemently denied by the energy sector: the maintenance of the civilian nuclear program is a financial relieve for the defence budget
- The EPRs are far from being “inherently safe” as the industry claimed. Currently the technical problems of the EPR projects seem unresolvable. The serious flaws in the bottom and lid of the EPR reactor pressure vessel in Flamanville cannot guarantee its safe operation. EU research on the fourth generation of nuclear power plants is an indirect admission that there are currently no inherently safe reactors, not even the EPR.
- Terrorist and cyber attacks on nuclear facilities become increasingly likely. Hinkley Point C appears to be relying on purely digital control technology for its reactor protection, which is significantly susceptible to failure and terrorist digital attacks.
- Renewable energy technologies are much cheaper, faster to install and can provide safe and secure power. A recent study by the Energy Watch Group and Lappeenranta University of Technology proved that renewable energy and storage systems could cover the worldwide electricity demand, even without a base load.
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About the Energy Watch Group
The Energy Watch Group (EWG) is an independent, non-profit global network of scientists and parliamentarians. The EWG commissions research and independent studies and analyses on global energy developments.