I was thrilled to read that the worlds largest nuclear construction firm, Electricite de France SA, has decided to terminate its operations in the US. EdF had planned to build 4 new reactors in the US in a joint venture with the US’s largest nuclear utility Exelon from Illinois. To quote the WSJ: Renissance
Tuesday, EDF’s Chief Financial Officer Thomas Piquemal expressed relief. The deal with Exelon “is the epilogue to the Constellation story,”
The Constellation story was about how EdF had tried with US partners to build a new third reactor at Calvert Cliffs in Maryland and failed. At first it looked like they might qualify for the Bush/Cheney investment loan guarantees for new reactors in the US. Then when this deal unraveled, the anti-nuclear group i worked with for years, NIRS fought the construction and operating license. For the first time ever, the NRC denied a construction and operating license, because EdF is a foreign controlled company.
The anti-nuclear movement combined with cheap shale gas has successfully pushed out of the US, the largest and best funded nuclear player in the world. Champagne is appropriate (despite the fact that low level nuclear waste is contaminating the Champagne region of France).
But it was the first two paragraphs of the Financial TImes on this story that really struck me.
But Henri Proglio, chief executive of the French group, said the drop in prices caused by shale gas had “no significant impact” on plans to build new nuclear capacity in Britain, where EDF is locked in long-running negotiations with the government over terms for constructing new atomic power stations.
It is not the case the global energy prices from the same fuel are the same. There are definitely transportation costs associated with bringing fuel from the middle Atlantic region to the UK. But the idea that this tremendously cheap fuel will not influence the already stained negotiations between EdF and the British government is nuclear double think at its best.