Nuclear power: a reactor is 1700 large 2MW wind turbines

QUESTION: What is the electrical power of a nuclear reactor in France and how much does it produce?

Réponse:The electrical power of a nuclear reactor installed in France is 0,850 GW or 1,350 GW. The future EPR reactors will be at 1,6 GW.

Explanations and comparisons with wind turbines

  • A GigaWatt corresponds to a Billion Watts or 1 W = 000 kW = 000 MW = 000 GW
  • Your desktop pc consumes approximately 0,3 kW. 1 GW can therefore power 3 million computers. And a 1,3 GW reactor with nearly 4 million computers.
  • A 1,3 GW nuclear reactor will produce approximately 1,3 * 0.85 * 8740h/year = 9 GWh per year, or 660 TWh/year. 9,7% is the nuclear load factor.
  • The largest wind turbines make 5 MW, or 5000 kW, enough to power 16 computers when operating at rated power. It would take 667 of these turbines to get the power of a single nuclear reactor.
  • The most common wind turbines have a power of around 2000kW, it would take around 650 to be built to obtain the power of a 1,3 GW reactor… Assuming that they obviously run at nominal power all the time. However, this is not the case because on average a wind turbine runs only 1/5 of the time at its nominal power.
  • We are talking about a load factor of 20%. But a nuclear reactor does not run at full power all the time either: taking into account outages, it is accepted that the load factor of a nuclear reactor is 85% per year over its entire operation. So it would take around 650 / (20/85) = 2750 2 kW wind turbines to generate electricity from a single 000 GW nuclear reactor. This calculation makes it possible to fix orders of magnitude.
  • This demonstration is made to show that nuclear power produces a lot, a lot of energy! And the low price of fuel justifies the high construction and maintenance costs… and allows the nuclear risk to be tolerated!
  • The french nuclear power plants make 2 to 6 reactors.
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- France map of reactors and nuclear power plants
- Forum nuclear energy
- Followed by the nuclear accident in Japan following the earthquake of March 11, 2011
- All your questions about nuclear energy to a nuclear specialist
- The efficiency of a nuclear power plant
- The nuclear and wind load factor: 1 nuclear reactor = 1700 wind turbines from 3 MW

4 comments on “Nuclear power: a reactor is 1700 large 2MW wind turbines”

  1. Where is the error?
    The park of 71 wind turbines in Fécamp (under construction) will provide 500 MW at a cost of €2 billion.
    A new generation EPR of 1660 MW has a cost of €7,6 billion.
    So it takes a little more than 3 parks (like that of Fécamp) or 235 wind turbines and not 1700 as you indicate, to equal the power of an EPR.
    On the other hand, we would save €1 billion and all that without the risks associated with nuclear power.

    1. Sorry, but you have understood absolutely nothing about the load factor and that is precisely the purpose of this article: you are comparing the nominal powers without taking into account the load bill, so it is nonsense.

      Then, look at the date of this article… At the time there were no wind turbines as powerful as there are now. The most powerful was at 2MW, that of Fécamp is 7MW and GE released one of 14 MW per unit! But that doesn't explain your error in reasoning about forgetting the load factors.

      Read and understand before criticizing. Thanks.

      You can also see:


  2. Another error:
    “A 1,3 GW nuclear reactor will produce approximately 1,3 * 0.85 = 1105 GWh per year, or 11 TWh/year. 85% is the nuclear load factor”
    1,3 x 0,85 = 1,105 and not 1105. This gives 1,105 GWh per year according to the formula, we are far from 11 TWh. And even if the correct result had been 1105 GWh then it was worth 1,105 TWh and not 11 TWh.
    The big problem is that in the explanations, all websites combined, the errors are so numerous in the units used, and the confusions between energy and power that it becomes very difficult to disentangle the true from the false, even when one has some knowledge in electricity.

    1. Hello Gerard,

      Thank you for this remark, there is no error, just a calculation shortcut.

      I have just corrected the passage by “A nuclear reactor of 1,3 GW will produce approximately 1,3 * 0.85 * 8740h/year = 9 GWh per year, or 660 TWh/year. 9,7% is the nuclear load factor. " to be more precise.

      A 1GW reactor will produce around 0.85 * 8740 = 7.5 TWh…85% is when they are running “normally”…in 2022 it is certainly much less than 85% on the French nuclear fleet…

      You can read the ongoing discussion about blackout risk:

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