Nuclear power plants, warming and heat wave

Or how EdF is lobbying to counter standards for the cooling water temperature of its atomic power plants.


The heat wave of 2003 revealed it, the heat wave of 2006 confirmed it: nuclear power plants are very sensitive to an ambient temperature above the average! Reason: a power station must be cooled with river water. However, not only are these waters currently warmer (heat wave) but the flow of rivers is also limited (drought). And since EdF does not, in theory, have the right to heat the water by more than X ° C.

Thus the X value is set at 0,3 ° C for installations located on the edge of the Garonne, at 1,5 ° C for installations located on the edge of the Meuse, Moselle or Seine and at 1 ° C for installations located on the banks of the Rhône, partially or totally equipped with atmospheric refrigeration towers. This value is increased to 3 ° C in the absence of such turns.

Since the flow of the river is constant and the temperature difference is fixed by the standards, there is a problem of heat balance and cooling (or warming) concerns are therefore created. A drop in power could easily solve the problem ...

Only here it is: EdF cannot easily lower its production because the strong development of room air conditioners (since 2003) now requires greater power during the summer (+ 3% compared to the normal for the months of July according to RTE). Mechanical air conditioners are therefore not at all a solution to the problem of global warming, on the contrary, they largely contribute to the overheating of urban centers and the overconsumption of electricity! And to say that there are solar air conditioners… but this is another debate.

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In order to meet demand, EdF therefore has no other choice than to discharge warmer water than required by the Standards ...

Here are some excerpts from Press:

1) Heat wave: EDF wants its plants to reject warmer waters

EDF has asked the government to authorize exceptionally, in the event of the persistence of the heat wave, its nuclear and thermal power plants located along the river to draw and discharge cooling water at temperatures "slightly higher" than the standards, the group announced. Saturday.

"The need to maintain the security of electricity supply on the territory, under the current conditions of very strong persistent heat in several European countries, has led EDF to request, as a precaution, the implementation of exceptional measures from the public authorities ", EDF said in a press release.


The authorization request was made to the Ministries of Finance, Ecology and Health which, if they accept it, will take an interministerial order to this effect, explained a spokesperson for EDF joined by AFP.

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At Golfech, the water returned is at a maximum of 30 degrees against 28 usually, while in Bugey, it is at a maximum of 27 degrees against 24 normally, EDF said in its press release.

To explain its decision, the group stressed that "the exceptional heat of recent days, 3 to 6 degrees higher than seasonal norms, has led to a historic rise in river temperatures" and weakened water resources, "essential for hydropower production ”and power plant cooling.

2) Heat wave: derogations for water discharges granted to EDF

In a press release, however, EDF underlines that a similar device had been put in place during the 2003 heatwave and "that no impact on the flora or fauna had been observed".
Exemptions have already been granted this summer for three plants located on the Garonne and the Rhone.
The company recalls that it was recently forced to buy electricity on the wholesale markets to guarantee the supply of French territory.
On July 19, EDF announced that it had bought 2.000 megawatts of electricity abroad.

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3) Heat wave: dispensation and nuclear power plant 3 everywhere ...

Exceeding these temperature thresholds could lead to the shutdown of several power plants.

EDF has asked the Government to authorize derogations on the temperature of discharges into the water for 6 thermal generating stations in Blénod, La Maxe, Porcheville, Aramon, Richemont and Cordemais.

Nelly OLIN, Minister of Ecology and Sustainable Development, has ruled out for the moment any possibility of derogation for 3 of the central 6 concerned. This decision was taken, after consultation with the Ministry of Industry, based on the analysis of its services in terms of impact on natural aquatic environments and in view of the information provided by the transport network manager. electricity, RTE. Indeed, the operation of these plants does not appear essential to the continuity of power users.

It authorized, as a precaution, the prefects to make exemptions for central 3 (Aramon, Cordemais and Richemont). These derogations are triggered only in cases of absolute necessity in order to maintain the safety of the electricity distribution network and are accompanied by accompanying measures relating to respect for the environment.

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