Nuclear Energy Forum: 4 April 2015

At its third forum, titled The Radiance of France, CANWin’s nuclear energy forum set itself the task of examining what has made the French so successful in achieving amongst the world’s lowest greenhouse gas emissions.

The attendance continues to grow and this time around we had presentations by 6 of its members with 25 attending. Rob Parker kicked off with a summary of the French system of 58 reactors built over 22 years. While they were built to provide energy self sufficiency, in this age of clean energy and greenhouse gas reductions the French generate electricity with only 71 gr CO2/kwh while across the border in Germany with its 48% renewable capacity they generate nearly 10 times the French emissions with 672 gr CO2/kwh.

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The reasons are clear in these two graphs and Germany sets an ominous precedent for Australia if we continue to implement wind and solar while burning coal.

Phillip Walker then outlined the political process under President Pompidou and Prime Minister Messmer. The decisions to proceed with the nuclear programme were unilateral with no public or parliamentary debate.

After the break we were treated to an excellent presentation by Cameron Esslemont. This dealt with both open and closed nuclear fuel cycles and the great potential for recycling of used nuclear fuel. Cameron also touched on the political difficulties of implementing nuclear power and the handling of used fuel. He spoke in detail about the shifting policies of the IPCC and the cost structure of nuclear energy. This excellent presentation really needs an encore with more time to get a better appreciation of all of Cameron’s work.

Paluel Nuclear Power Plant 550x244 Top 10 Nuclear Power Plants

Paluel Nuclear Power Plant 5,528 MWh: France

Mike Thorley spoke about the French political system and outlined how it addressed centralised planning to enable the reactor fleet to be constructed.

Peter Cunningham then presented more details of the French system, its generating costs and comparison with the German performance and Australia’s uranium and thorium reserves.

Lou Flower then completed the afternoon with his observations that the French reactors are reaching maturity and may run into political difficulties with their replacement. The motivation of post war France has changed. The current generation may not be as patriotic or motivated to repeat the successes of the past. This may jeopardise future nuclear decisions.

The forum members show their commitment to the study of nuclear energy through their full participation and involvement in the topics. They are prepared to do work as demonstrated by the range of speakers and the three hours of full involvement. There is not full agreement on the issues we address however with intelligence and good grace the level of debate is greatly improved.

Based on this last meeting the CANWin nuclear forum has an excellent future where some very good work on understanding how we can properly decarbonise our energy production can occur.

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