Last hurdle cleared for closing France's oldest nuclear plant

28 Mar 2017

The European Commission has validated the compensation protocol set up between EDF and the French government which means that the three conditions required by EDF regarding the abrogation of the license to operate the Fessenheim nuclear power plant (Haut-Rhin, France) have now been fulfilled. EDF will summon its Board of Directors in April 2017 and discuss the next steps to follow regarding the future of the Fessenheim NPP.

The Fessenheim nuclear power plant is the oldest operational nuclear power plant in France, with two 880 MW (920 MW gross) PWR units commissioned in 1978. EDF expected to operate the two reactors during 60 years, i.e. until 2048, but its early closure was a 2012 presidential election campaign promise.

The main issue is the existing cap on nuclear capacities according to the 2015 French energy transition law which imposes a limit on installed nuclear capacities at its current level of 63.2 GW. EDF has to abide by this new law, which means the commissioning of the EPR in Flamanville (1,650 MW) will cause two existing reactors to shut down. In August 2016, the French government and EDF reached an agreement on the closure of the power plant that should occur upon the commissioning of the third generation power nuclear Flamanville EPR project in late 2018-early 2019. The group and the state have agreed on a compensation formula that will be used to estimate anticipated costs and compensation for early closure.

The three conditions needed for the validation of the 2016 agreement were as follows:
- In March 2017, the French government extended the construction timetable of the EPR (European Pressurised Reactor) in Flamanville (Manche Department) up to April 2020, instead of the fourth quarter of 2018.
- EDF obtained the authorization to continuously operate the Paluel NPP second reactor although it will remain stationary for more than 2 years due to ongoing overhauls and reparations.
- The European Commission announced that it had no further commentaries in the indemnity agreement negotiated between the state and EDF.

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