Nuclear Power in France: Beyond the Myth

The general message is clear: in France nuclear power works, in 2007 providing 77% of the electricity in the country and 47% of all nuclear electricity in the EU. “The requests by countries that wish to profit from that clean and cheap source of energy are legitimate”, claims French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. But does it really work that well and is it all that clean and cheap in France?

An assessment of the costs of the French nuclear PWR program 1970–2000

The paper reviews the history and the economics of the French PWR program, which is arguably the most successful nuclear-scale up experience in an industrialized country. Key to this success was a unique institutional framework that allowed for centralized decision making, a high degree of standardization, and regulatory stability, all epitomized by comparatively short reactor construction times.

French Models

Like favorite sports teams, affinity for particular energy types seems to run deep.  Geography clearly plays a role:  it is not surprising that Senators Tom Harkin (Iowa) and Richard Lugar (Indiana) have long been staunch supporters of biofuels, and corn ethanol in particular.  The two have proposed increasing renewable fuel mandates to 60 billion gallons per year, a move that would result in more than a

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