EDF CEO calls for 'Marshall Plan' to revive nuclear power

EDF CEO calls for ‘Marshall Plan’ to revive nuclear power

Wednesday’s hearing at the National Assembly was eagerly awaited by Jean-Bernard Levy, CEO of EDF. The first to get a view of France’s energy situation on the eve of a winter that promises to be complicated by the shutdown of many nuclear reactors. Then, to listen to a senior chief at the end of his career is, in theory, freer to express himself than usual, even if the violent criticism the head of state has recently expressed towards him is enough to push him to play a low role. Indeed, last week, Emmanuel Macron publicly pointed to Jean-Bernard Levy’s responsibility for the current setbacks of French nuclear power.

Commit to priority: Representatives immediately questioned him about the electricity supply to homes and businesses this winter. The CEO of EDF wanted to be reassured. To listen to Jean-Bernard Levy, the production of electricity must suffice. “The goal is to have roughly the same electricity production as the previous winter, when all went well. Every Frenchman had the electricity he needed,” Explain who is preparing to leave the duties he has held since 2015 as soon as the country decides to choose his successor.

The solution to the energy crisis lies in particular in the proper functioning of the French nuclear fleet, which is currently burdened by the lack of availability of reactors. Jean-Bernard Levy and the top EDF executives next to him at the Palais Bourbon were reassuring. To date, 30 reactors are in working order (including 27 already connected to the power grid, and 3 more available at any time) and 25 extinguishers. Of these 25 paused reactors, some forced shutdowns were scheduled for so-called maintenance work. ‘Great gift’.

25 paused reactors must be restarted by February

Problem: This ten-year check is taking much longer since the regulatory tightening that followed the Fukushima accident in 2011. However, at the same time, EDF is facing a shortage of manpower. “Because of the large retirements and consequently the loss of skills and experience” that make maintenance “much longer” According to Cedric Lewandowski, CEO of the EDF Group responsible for nuclear energy.

On top of this long-planned work, an unexpected difficulty was added: ten reactors were hit by a corrosion phenomenon that weakened their tubes. Five others are being investigated on suspicion of erosion. However, Jean-Bernard Levy is proud of a new technique for repairing micro-cracks using waves, which avoids direct intervention on the tubes and prolonged blockage of the site.

In the short term, Cedric Lewandowski stresses that in the coming weeks the 25 shutdown reactors will resume service. According to the schedule set by the EDF, five reactors will restart in September, five in October, seven in November, three in December, three in January and two in February. he will not be there “Permanent interruptions (meaning ‘sudden’) this winter”, Jean-Bernard Levy insisted.

“These exceptional circumstances require urgent action but also a long-term perspective.”, he completed. The craftsman of the French nuclear energy revival realized that it was necessary to take seriously the industrial difficulties of the EDF in ensuring the rapid and efficient maintenance of its power plants.

The commander repeatedly lamented the lack of skills not only in the EDF but also – and above all – in its subcontractors, in the technical professions of a welder, a boiler maker or even a pipe manufacturer. Notably the political stalling over nuclear power during the 2010s. After the Fukushima accident, many talked about a nuclear winter. We have gained insight (on the future of the sector) recently”Expressed regret while welcoming the role that had been taken finally by the President of the Republic.

The need for a nuclear “Marshall Plan”

Belfort’s speech (by Emmanuel Macron) in February 2022 clearly defined the framework for developing nuclear energy in the medium and long term. We are able to further intensify the sector, with the University of Nuclear Professions, an Excel plan at the end of 2019. We have launched a welding school in Cotentin,” Acknowledged Jean-Bernard Levy, a tireless advocate of nuclear energy. This summer, the executive branch acted by completely re-nationalizing EDF to have its own discretion in managing the nuclear programme.

While he welcomes the nuclear revival project unveiled by Emmanuel Macron in February, after criticizing the Elysee’s long-standing demand for the overthrow of the nuclear regime, Jean-Bernard Levy is now urging the government and powers to go beyond simplicity. Discussions. This means a tangible launch of the second generation of the second that was promised by the President of the Republic at the end of his first term.

We need scripts and licenses to launch construction sites. We need a “Marshall Plan” to relaunch the EPR architecture. It seems to me that the term is justified to have the means » To the level of ambition of the Elysee, the CEO of EDF demanded in his last address to parliamentarians. A way to encourage them to pass laws facilitating the construction of new reactors throughout the territory.

Yesterday, Tuesday, facing the same association’s economic affairs committee, Industry Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher specifically mentioned a bill “The beginning of the year 2023 may (…) which It will introduce provisions to save procedural time when building construction sites are launched.” nuclear.