Category Energy Portfolio

2001: Enters AREVA

The achievement of the French nuclear fleet gives the opportunity to develop a com­plete nuclear industry for design of nuclear plants, exploitation and services, nuclear fuel cycle management, logistics, etc. AREVA, created in 2001, is the industrial heir of 50 years of research, technological innovations and industrial realisations in nuclear equipments and services.

Through its Front end division, Back end division and Reactors and services divi­sion, the AREVA group operates in every area of the nuclear cycle.

In the front end of the cycle, AREVA supplies uranium and offers the conversion and enrichment services needed to fabricate the fuel assemblies that go into the re­actor core...

Read More

Preparing for the renewal of the PWR fleet

Even if, globally, the French nuclear fleet is quite young, EDF has begun to prepare the conditions of the renewal of his PWR fleet. The EPR nuclear plant has been designed for this renewal.

This design takes into account all the previous experience, not only of the French nuclear programme but also of the German realisations (French N4 series as far as Germany’s Konvoi design). In particular the safety authorities of both countries have strongly interacted to take advantage of the innovations and conceptual dispositions of the fleets in operation. Nearly all the European utilities have been involved to express common requirements...

Read More

A comprehensive systemic approach to nuclear power

Other countries have progressively adopted the French approach of building, step by step, series of standardized plants. But what makes the French approach rather unique in the western economies is its comprehensiveness. It was really a systemic (some would say “holistic”) approach, developing the whole fuel cycle in parallel to and in cohesion with the nuclear power plant construction program.

While EDF and Framatome were busy building the plants, the CEA, then its indus­trial subsidiary COGEMA (now AREVA NC), established in 1976 as a fully owned subsidiary of CEA, was exploring and mining uranium, building the EURODIF en­richment plant and expanding the capacity of the La Hague reprocessing plant...

Read More

From 1974 to 2000: The French “quantitative” nuclear programme

Launched in 1974, the second generation of nuclear power plants owned and oper­ated by EDF was unique in its scope and degree of standardization. It comprised 6 series of PWR units:

• 6 “CP0” 900 MWe Plants (including the first 3 ordered before 1974)

• 18 “CP1” 900 MWe Plants

• 20 “CP2” 900 MWe Pants

• 6 “P4” 1300 MWe Plants

• 14 “P’4” 1300 MWe plants

• 4 “N4” 1450 MWe Plants

As a matter of fact, all 34 CPx units identical NSSS and differ only in the non­nuclear balance of plant BOP. The same applies to P4 and P’4.

This high degree of standardization allowed a drastic cost reduction along the series CP and P. The N4 series was too short to exhibit any significant series effect.

Table 5.3...

Read More

Reacting to the first oil shock

Even though the first oil shock – multiplication by a factor of 4 of the oil prices decided by OPEC in the wake of the 1973 Kippur War – was severely resented in most western countries, it was especially problematic in France for two reasons. On the one hand, oil was supplying more then two third of our electricity, a commodity even more vital than gasoline, and on the other hand memories of the 1957 embargo were still vivid in many French minds. Overnight, the previously soft addiction to im­ported oil became unacceptable and something had to be done to reduce it. As there was – and unfortunately still is – little possibility of substitution to oil products for transportation, efforts were decided on energy conservation and phasing oil out of electricity generation.

After consultation wi...

Read More

The first generation of nuclear plants

As early as 1946, some uranium was discovered in France by the CEA, but France did not master the technology of isotopic enrichment, still a US monopoly at the time. Consequently, the French designed, developed and deployed a first generation of nuclear power plants which did not require enriched uranium as a fuel: the so – called UNGG (for Uranium Naturel Gaz Graphite), similar to the British Magnox. The very first nuclear electricity was generated in France in October 1956, in G1, an experimental reactor operated by the CEA. But the first commercial nuclear plant operated by EDF, the 70 MWe UNGG “Chinon A1”, began generating power feeding the French grid in 1963.

The spent fuel from Magnox and UNGG reactors cannot be stored very long un­der water and must be reprocessed to stabilize ...

Read More

From 1945 to 1973: “The glorious thirty years”

During the 50s, a period of vigorous post war reconstruction (helped by the Marshall Plan), France relied mostly on its domestic coal resources which supplied more than two thirds of its energy consumption. But during this period, the newly integrated national utility Electricite de France, EDF, was engaged in a grand endeavour, the equipment of France in hydropower: as early as 1960, hydropower was delivering 40 TWh, 60% of the French electricity consumption. By the 70s, all potentially eco­nomical hydraulic sites, both mountain and run-of-the-mill river dams had been built. EDF had even built the world’s first and still unique tidal power plant (La Rance).

In 1957, two significant events occurred: following the Suez Anglo-Israeli-French expedition, France experienced during a few mont...

Read More

French scientific tradition regarding nuclear science

By the turn of the XIXth century, radioactivity was discovered by Henri Becquerel, Pierre and Marie Curie, who were awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for this discovery. Then in 1934, Frederic Joliot-Curie and his wife Irene, Marie Curie’s daughter, were awarded the Nobel Prize for the discovery of artificial radioactivity. In 1939, a few months after the discovery of nuclear fission by a German team led by Otto Hahn, the French team led by Frederic Joliot-Curie demonstrated that new neutrons were emitted during a fission, making it possible to establish and sustain




Installed nuclear



Number of



% nuclear in



United States of America











Read More