A reader wrote to blaqswans.org, and we found it interesting to publish that text to contribute to the debate on nuclear, which is too often Manichean.
Evolution of the cost of building the Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant since 2006, which was supposed to deliver the latest “EPR” nuclear technology “increased safety while providing enhanced economic competitiveness” (see the Blaq Box)
With this graph, some negativists who generally believe that France is on the decline on all fronts, see an exponential explosion of the costs.
They see the collapse of the flagship of our national industry, of the great job creator that is the electro-nuclear sector.
Those leftist critics hope to read on that graph the decline of this unique nuclear French know-how that has been the envy of the world for more than 50 years, and which is today coveted by aspiring super powers such as China and Russia.
However, those anti-nuclear critics miss a critical point in their reasoning. Those Greenies, stuck in their antiquated thinking, just like the socialists and communists were in the past decades, don’t understand the breakthroughs in paradigms that are part of the innovation cycle. The truth is not in extrapolating a trend, but in understanding an anomaly that heralds the tipping point, which is so important to the Black Swan Theory – the eponym of this blog.
And what it that last cost point was not the continuation of the trend, but an inflexion?
Indeed, let’s take a look at that cost curve one more time:
You see the trend curve in red? It simply is the classic S curve that traditionally describes the various phases of technology development. After laborious beginnings and high costs of developments, improvements contain costs, before mature industrial processes stabilise those costs in the nirvana of exploitation.
So this curve tells us that after a nuclear winter, spring is finally coming for the French nuclear engineering community. Hoping that the world will finally listen to Pope Francis and get out of its Neanderthalean cave to finally courageously embrace the technologies that will protect the environment, which is God’s creation after all…
Yours truly – a hopeful French citizen >>
Raymondo – 9 septembre 2015 – Paris
What is the EPR nuclear technology?
The EPR is a third generation pressurized water reactor (PWR) design. It has been designed and developed mainly by Framatome (now Areva NP) and Électricité de France (EDF) in France, and Siemens in Germany. In Europe this reactor design was called European Pressurized Reactor, and the internationalized name was Evolutionary Power Reactor, but it is now simply named EPR by Areva.
Four EPR units are under construction. The first two, in Finland and France, are both facing costly construction delays (to at least 2018). Construction commenced on two Chinese units in 2009 and 2010. The Chinese units were to start operation in 2014 and 2015, but are now expected to come online in 2016 and 2017.
These delays, and the associated costs, are causing a growing number of observers to see this as a total delusion and obsession of the nuclear lobby to keep sinking public funds for its self serving interests.