Nuclear Power in France
As with contemporary on-going nuclear research in America, France has been pursuing three new Gen IV technologies: gas-cooled fast reactor, sodium-cooled fast reactor, and very high temperature reactor (gas-cooled). While Areva has been working on the last two types, the main interest in the very high temperature reactors has been in the USA, as well as South Africa and China. CEA interest in the fast reactors is on the basis that they will produce less waste and will better exploit uranium resources, including the 220,000 tonnes of depleted uranium and some reprocessed uranium stockpiled in France.
• France derives over 75% of its electricity from nuclear energy. This is due to a long-standing policy based on energy security.
• France is the world's largest net exporter of electricity due to its very low cost of generation, and gains over EUR 3 billion per year from this.
• France has been very active in developing nuclear technology. Reactors and fuel products and services are a major export.
• It is building its first Generation III reactor and planning a second.
In 2007 French electricity generation was 570 billion kWh gross, and consumption was about 447 billion kWh - 6800 kWh per person. Over the last decade France has exported 60-80 billion kWh net each year and EdF expects exports to continue at 65-70 TWh/yr, to Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and UK. Imports are relatively trivial.
France has 59 nuclear reactors operated by Electricite de France (EdF), with total capacity of over 63 GWe, supplying over 430 billion kWh per year of electricity (net), 78% of the total generated there. Total generating capacity is 116 GWe, including 25 GWe hydro and 26 GWe fossil fuel.