The Nuclear Safety Authority authorizes the commissioning of the EDF EPR in Flamanville

The French nuclear watchdog gave the green light on Tuesday, May 7, to the future commissioning of the new generation EPR reactor at Flamanville, a key step for the gradual launch of electricity production planned for the summer, with twelve years late

The Nuclear Safety Authority authorizes the commissioning of the EDF EPR in Flamanville

The French nuclear watchdog gave the green light on Tuesday, May 7, to the future commissioning of the new generation EPR reactor at Flamanville, a key step for the gradual launch of electricity production planned for the summer, with twelve years late.

At the end of its investigation, the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) “has just adopted the authorization to commission the Flamanville EPR,” declared Julien Collet, Deputy Director General of the ASN. “This authorization will allow EDF to start loading fuel into the reactor core and then begin the testing phase which will continue” over the coming months.

These tests will make it possible in particular to “verify the proper behavior of the reactor core” and “the proper functioning of the reactor safety devices,” explained Mr. Collet.

Connection to the electricity network in a few months

EDF can now begin loading, “one by one”, the uranium assemblies into the reactor at any time, an essential milestone before the gradual launch of electricity production planned for this summer.

Connection to the electricity network (“coupling”) will only take place in a few months, once the reactor has reached 25% of its power, after a gradual ramp-up in stages. It is only at the “end of the year” that the reactor should operate and deliver its electrons at 100% of its power, according to EDF.

EDF will still have to request the opinion of ASN three times: “before starting the nuclear reaction”, “at the 25% power level then at the 80% power level”, indicated Mr. Collet.

At a time when the government wants to build up to 14 reactors in France, the loading of fuel is a decisive step for EDF and the entire sector, which intend to turn the page on a difficult 17-year project, punctuated by multiple problems and colossal budgetary slippages.

A total bill estimated at 13.2 billion

If the start-up is confirmed in the summer of 2024, it will take place 12 years behind the departure schedule, for a total bill now estimated at 13.2 billion euros, according to EDF, or four times the initial estimate of 3 ,3 billions.

Launched in 1992 as the flagship of nuclear technology, with an initial Franco-German collaboration, European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) technology was designed to revive the atom in Europe, after the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, by providing increased safety and power.

But this promise has encountered numerous setbacks. Like the first EPR project, launched in Olkiluoto (Finland) in 2005, that of Flamanville, started in 2007, experienced multiple setbacks: cracks in the concrete of the slab, anomalies in the steel of the tank, defects Welding…