Electricity: EDF nuclear production will be complex until 2024...at least
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Electricity: EDF nuclear production will be complex until 2024…at least

The extremely tense situation that the electrical system will face this winter is not a short-term problem. It is a permanent problem that will persist over time. Figures published by the EDF on Tuesday, September 13th confirm this: In 2024, nuclear production will be between 315 and 345 TWh, according to an electrician’s estimates. “This is the level of the Covid year », notes Nicholas Goldberg, an energy expert at Columbus Consulting. In 2020, a year in which there was a strict two-month restriction, French nuclear electricity production actually collapsed to 335.4 TWh, down 11.6% (44 TWh) compared to 2019.. Its lowest level since 1993 »then confirmed by RTE, Director of the Electricity Transmission Network.

In 2024, the production of electricity should be slightly higher than the forecast for 2023, which is currently estimated at 300-330 TWh, which itself is slightly higher than the production in 2022, which should be only 285 TWh, “A real disaster »And the According to Nicholas Goldberg.

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Since 2015, we have known that the situation will be tense »

These figures show that the electricity crisis will continue until at least 2024, and it is worrying, expert says. subordinate In 2015, we learned that the situation at the nuclear power plant would be tense at this time due to the ten-year inspections [arrêt de plusieurs mois de la production d’un réacteur, qui a lieu tous les dix ans, et pendant lequel un examen de sûreté est réalisé en profondeur. Les quatrièmes visites décennales (VD4), qui concernent en ce moment les plus vieux réacteurs du parc, ceux de 900 MW, comptent 20.000 activités de maintenance et de contrôles et visent à faire tendre le niveau de sûreté de ces réacteurs vers celui des EPR, ndlr]And the But we had no idea how deep this crisis was »admits.

Regarding the production estimate for 2024, EDF That the associated maintenance schedule is being standardized ». At the moment, we do not yet know the magnitude of the various factors that will affect the availability of the nuclear fleet in 2024. What is the percentage of maintenance and inspections for ten years and the percentage of corrosion problems? »Nicholas Goldberg asks.

Seven inspections are scheduled for ten years in 2024

The 2024 nuclear production estimate is explained by an intensive industrial program and the ongoing implementation of a nuclear reactor control program in the context of the stress corrosion phenomenon. »for his part, refers to the EDF, without giving further details.

At the end of 2021, the electrician discovered a chain stress corrosion problem that results in micro-cracks on steel tubes connected to the main primary circuit that surrounds the reactor. According to investigations conducted by the EDF, 12 reactors are affected or likely to be affected by this phenomenon and are therefore currently closed. (While 17 others are currently closed for maintenance). If this phenomenon continues until 2024, maintenance shutdowns for additional checks may be prolonged.

In addition, in 2024, seven decennial outages are planned: two relating to two 1,300 MW reactors at Penly 2 and Golfech 2, and a fourth decennial outages to the 900 MW Blayais 3, Cruas 3, Dampierre 4 and Gravelines 4 reactors , Tricastine 4.

In 2024, we will still be in a tense situation [sur le plan de la sécurité d’approvisionnement électrique, ndlr]. It will be necessary to apply environmental gestures, but also principles of sobriety while creating and applying the correct tariff signals over time because it is a permanent problem. »And the Nicholas Goldberg insists.

Production decline since 2018

However, some elements can ease the French electrical system. On the production side, the offshore wind farm in Saint-Nazaire, consisting of 80 turbines, will be fully operational and scheduled for 100% commissioning at the end of 2022. It is also hoped that the Renewable Energies Acceleration Act, which will soon be presented to the Cabinet, Its first effects have paid off.

Next, France should be able to import more electricity thanks to the creation of a new link between France and Italy via the Frejus Tunnel. This should be ready to be fully operational in the coming months. On the other hand, it is likely that the results regarding energy efficiency work will not be there yet.

Since 2018, French nuclear production has continued to decline. Only 2021 was marked by a fragile recovery. The French nuclear power fleet produced 393.2 TWh in 2018, 379.5 TWh in 2019, 335.4 TWh in 2020 and 360.7 TWh in 2021. We have to go back to 2015 for a volume greater than 400 TWh, a level considered Normal » By all experts in the sector. And for good reason, from 2002 to 2015, electricity production from corn was always greater than 400 TWh, with the exception of 2009.