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 5.3.2 French Nuclear Power Plants in operation and in construction.

Unit

name

Type

Series

Rating

(MWe)

Construction

Operation

Phenix (CEA)

FBR

250

1968

1973

Fessenheim 1

PWR

CP0

880

1971

1977

Fessenheim 2

PWR

CP0

880

1972

1977

Bugey 2

PWR

CP0

910

1972

1978

Bugey 3

PWR

CP0

910

1973

1978

Bugey 4

PWR

CP0

880

1974

1979

Bugey 5

PWR

CP0

880

1974

1979

Tricastin 1

PWR

CP1

915

1974

1980

Tricastin 2

PWR

CP1

915

1974

1980

Dampierre 1

PWR

CP1

890

1975

1980

Dampierre 2

PWR

CP1

890

1975

1980

Gravelines B1

PWR

CP1

910

1975

1980

Gravelines B2

PWR

CP1

910

1975

1980

Gravelines B3

PWR

CP1

910

1975

1980

Dampierre 3

PWR

CP1

890

1975

1981

Dampierre 4

PWR

CP1

890

1975

1981

Tricastin 3

PWR

CP1

915

1975

1981

Tricastin 4

PWR

CP1

915

1975

1981

Gravelines B4

PWR

CP1

910

1976

1981

Saint-Laurent B1

PWR

CP2

915

1976

1981

Saint-Laurent B2

PWR

CP2

915

1976

1981

Blayais 1

PWR

CP1

910

1977

1981

Blayais 2

PWR

CP1

910

1977

1982

Chinon B1

PWR

CP2

905

1977

1982

Chinon B2

PWR

CP2

905

1977

1983

Blayais 3

PWR

CP1

910

1978

1983

Blayais 4

PWR

CP1

910

1978

1983

Cruas 1

PWR

CP2

915

1978

1983

Cruas 2

PWR

CP2

915

1978

1984

Paluel 1

PWR

P4

1330

1977

1984

Paluel 2

PWR

P4

1330

1978

1984

Cruas 3

PWR

CP2

945

1979

1984

Cruas 4

PWR

CP2

915

1979

1984

Gravelines B5

PWR

CP1

910

1979

1984

Flamanville 1

PWR

P4

1330

1979

1985

Gravelines B6

PWR

CP1

910

1979

1985

Paluel 3

PWR

P4

1330

1979

1985

Saint-Alban 1

PWR

P’4

1335

1979

1985

Cattenom 1

PWR

P’4

1300

1979

1986

Saint-Alban 2

PWR

P’4

1335

1979

1986

Chinon B3

PWR

CP2

905

1980

1986

Flamanville 2

PWR

P4

1330

1980

1986

Paluel 4

PWR

P4

1330

1980

1986

Belleville 1

PWR

P’4

1310

1980

1987

Cattenom 2

PWR

P’4

1300

1980

1987

Belleville 2

PWR

P’4

1310

1980

1988

Chinon B4

PWR

CP2

905

1981

1987

Nogent 1

PWR

P’4

1310

1981

1987

Nogent 2

PWR

P’4

1310

1982

1988

Cattenom 3

PWR

P’4

1300

1982

1990

(Continued)

Table 5.3.2 (Continued)

Unit Rating

name

Type

Series

(MWe)

Construction

Operation

Golfech 1

PWR

P’4

1310

1982

1990

Penly 1

PWR

P’4

1330

1982

1990

Cattenom 4

PWR

P’4

1300

1983

1991

Penly 2

PWR

P’4

1330

1984

1992

Golfech 2

PWR

P’4

1310

1984

1993

Chooz B1

PWR

N4

1500

1984

1996

Chooz B2

PWR

N4

1500

1985

1997

Civaux 1

PWR

N4

1495

1988

1997

Civaux 2

PWR

N4

1495

1991

1999

Flamanville 3

PWR

EPR

1600 MW

2007

2012

(forecast)

An additional cost reduction came from building systematically several units (2 to 6) along one another on the same site. Standardization allows also a very efficient return of experience because any lesson learned on one unit is completely suitable to be ap­plied on all its identical twins. Standardization facilitates the training of operation and maintenance teams who can move from one plant to the other without losing their efficiency.

On the other hand, going standardized was a bold decision because of the risk of common mode failure… And some such failures did happen, but only in the process of ageing: they could therefore be repaired during the normal periodical outages be­fore each unit reached the “critical age” for a given defect to appear.

The huge planned construction program allowed Framatome to invest in very modern construction plants and facilities, dimensioned to accommodate eight NSSS per year, including two for potential exports. These modern facilities allowed reducing fabrication costs by fully taking advantage of the standardization: what could be called a “virtuous” circle.

With the connection of Civaux 2, the last of the N4 series to the grid, the “quantita­tive program” was completed in 2000.

The first 900 series were actually plants built under license, duplicated from an existing “lead plant” already operating in the United States. But after 1974, in stark contrast to the French situation, the US nuclear program ran into deep troubles (which are beyond the scope of this paper). As a result, Paluel 1, the first of the P4 series, had to be completed far in advance of South Texas 1, its supposed “lead plant”. Westinghouse was no longer in a position to act as a true licensor, and Framatome terminated prematurely the license agreement in early 1981. From then on, the PWR technology was recognized to be entirely “naturalized French”, and the N4 technol­ogy is genuinely French.

Table 5.3.2 recapitulates the main features of the French NPP in operation and in construction.

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