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"Reliable" Nuclear Unreliable Afterall Even in France

Article by: Paul Gipe


Anti-wind activists often claim that nuclear is more reliable than wind energy and, therefore, we should just use nuclear and forget wind energy, solar energy, and renewables in general.

Typically, these “activists” either don’t know what they’re talking about or deliberately obfuscate the issue of reliability, variability, and intermittency.

As I’ve said many times before, no power plant is 100% “reliable”. All fail to generate at one time or another for various reasons. It all becomes a question of probability and the liklihood that the power won’t be there when you need it, such as during a heat wave in mid summer when everyone has switched on their air conditioners. Engineers and system operators understand this and are trained to handle it.

And that’s exactly what has happened in France–again. In 2003, France had to substantially reduce its nuclear generation for safety and environmental reasons during the height of a horrendous heat wave that killed 23,000 people. Now in 2009 it has happened again, according to articles from Europe. France has had to reduce its nuclear generation by an incredible 20 percent because of the danger of overheating the reactors’ components and overheating the rivers where the reactors are sited.

This event, coming only six years after the previous occurrence, should once and for all put to bed the myth that nuclear is somehow so “reliable” that wind energy and other renewables are not needed.

The following article by the Times Online puts it in perspective.

France imports UK electricity as plants shut by Robin Pagnamenta, Times Online Energy and Environment Editor