French plant spend pegged at 100bn euros; Sweden’s Oskarshamn 1 to shut mid-2017

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EDF's 58 French nuclear reactors provide around three quarters of the nation's power. (Image credit: ssuaphoto)

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French plant investments estimated at 100 billion euros

EDF will need to spend around 100 billion euros (£112.2 billion) by 2030 to upgrade its fleet of 58 operational nuclear reactors in France, the national audit office said February 10.

State-controlled EDF had already said it planned to spend around 55 billion euros by 2025 to extend plant lifespans beyond 40 years and introduce new safety measures.

EDF's 58 nuclear power reactors provide around three quarters of France's power, although a new energy transition law plans to reduce the share of nuclear power to around 50% by 2025. This would impact the investment figure, the audit office said.

The audit office said that its projections for 2030 were coherent with those set out by EDF. The office included operational expenses as well as investment costs and these include costs associated with major equipment replacements, it noted.

"Investment spending is estimated at 74.7 billion euros between 2014 and 2030, and operations spending at 25.1 billion euros during the same period," it said.

EDF extends lifespans of four UK plants

EDF Energy is to extend the lifespans of four UK nuclear power plants, the company said February 16.

EDF Energy is the UK subsidiary of France’s EDF.

The lifespans of the Heysham 1 and Hartlepool reactors will be extended by 5 years to 2024, while the lifespans of Heysham 2 and Torness are to be extended by seven years to 2030, the operator said.

"In the face of challenging market conditions, belief that two important Government policies will be maintained and strengthened has given EDF Energy the confidence to move the scheduled closure dates of the four stations," EDF Energy said.

The four nuclear stations supply around 4.7 GW of electricity, more than half of EDF Energy's UK nuclear capacity.

Sweden's Oskarshamn 1 to shut mid-2017

OKG has decided to close its Oskarshamn 1 (O1) nuclear power plant at the end of June 2017, the company said February 16.

In October, the company outlined a closure date of between 2017 and 2019, for economic reasons. OKG also chose to not resume operations at Oskarshamn 2 (O2).

"The decision is based on the sustained low electricity prices, combined with the output tax on nuclear power, which has now also increased and future requirements for comprehensive investments," OKG said in its latest statement.

The Oskarshamn 3 plant is to remain online, the company said.

The closure of Oskarshamn 1 cannot begin until the required permits have been received from the Swedish Land and Environmental Court and the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority.

The decommissioning process of the plant would begin with the emptying of nuclear fuel, which would be stored in existing fuel pools for around one year before it is transported to SKB's spent nuclear fuel facility at Clab, Oskarshamn.

There would then be a phase of facility overhaul and preservation before demolition takes place and the site is restored.

"An exact schedule for the length of time it will take before the facilities can be demolished and the restoration of the land can commence is currently not available," OKG said.

Wisconsin's Senate repeals nuclear moratorium

The Senate of the US state of Wisconsin has passed a bill which repeals the state's 33-year moratorium on nuclear plant construction. The bill must now be signed by state Governor Scott Walker for it to enter into law.

In addition to dropping the ban on nuclear plant construction, the bill also incorporates advanced nuclear energy options into state energy priorities.

Republican state Rep. Kevin Petersen reportedly introduced the legislation because the reason for the ban—the lack of a federal used fuel repository—is no longer relevant now that dry storage is in wide use at nuclear plant sites.

Wisconsin currently has two operational reactors at Point Beach, with a combined capacity of 1.2 GW. Nuclear energy provides around 15% of electricity in the state, far behind the 62% provided by coal-fired plants.

"This decision appropriately gives the state the option to consider nuclear energy along with all other electricity sources in the planning of its energy future,” said Alex Flint, senior vice president of governmental affairs at the Nuclear Energy Institute.