France: EDF is preparing its nuclear reactors for climate change
By Francois de Beaupuy
Electricite de France SA is preparing its nuclear power facilities to operate in more severe heatwaves in the coming decades as a changing climate may interfere with key electrical equipment.
The utility, which produces almost three-quarters of France’s electricity from its 58 nuclear reactors, is under pressure from the country’s atomic safety authority to improve the resilience of its power stations against rising temperatures and potentially more frequent natural disasters connected with climate change.
IRSN, the watchdog’s technical adviser, recommended in February that EDF take into account hotter and longer heat waves when it seeks approval to extend the lifetime of its reactors. Sustained, higher temperatures could damage key equipment, such as back-up diesel generators, the company said.
EDF’s efforts to mitigate the effect of warmer weather on its nuclear power output has already helped reduce unplanned outages. In 2003, reactor halts caused by the heatwave reduced the company’s French nuclear production by 1.7%. Last year, the loss of nuclear output was just 0.7%, according to Laugier.