PARIS, June 12 Electricity produced by onshore
wind and solar plants may become more competitive with power
generated by upgraded nuclear plants in France by the end of
this decade, a study by environmental group Greenpeace showed on
The study comes a week before Energy Minister Segolene Royal
presents the broad lines of a much-delayed framework energy law
that aims to spell out how France will cut the share of atomic
energy to 50 percent from the current 75 percent by 2025.
The rising cost of France's nuclear energy is a concern and
the government should set up independent expert institutions to
help it plan long-term energy investments, a parliamentary
committee said in a report published on Tuesday.
According to the Greenpeace study, the investment needed to
upgrade French utility EDF's 58 nuclear reactors to
bring them close to the safety level of a new-generation EPR
reactor would raise median production costs to 133 euros ($180)
per megawatt-hour (MWh).
That estimate, based on an extension of the lifespan of
current reactors by 10 years to 50 years and 4.4 billion euros
worth of work per reactor, would make nuclear energy less
competitive than onshore wind power around 2015, the study said.
Greenpeace also sees the cost of photovoltaic power falling
to less than 134 euros/MWh around 2019 from more than 250
euros/MWh today, making it competitive with the renovated French
nuclear plants by that time.
Photovoltaic solar panels turn sunlight directly into
electricity, from concentrating solar power.
State-owned utility EDF has said it expected investment of
about 55 billion euros by 2025, less than 1 billion euros per
reactor, to upgrade the plants in the light of lessons learnt
from the Fukushima disaster in Japan and prepare them for an
extension of their lifespan. But the state auditor raised that
estimate to 62.5 billion euros last month.
Greenpeace's 4.4 billion-euro price tag per reactor is based
on calculations by Wise-Paris and Global Chance, associations
close to anti-nuclear groups, reported earlier this year.
EDF has also said the reactors' lifespan could be extended
by 20 years, arguing that their design was based on similar
models built by Westinghouse in the United States, where many
were granted 60-year licences.
French regulator ASN is expected to give a first opinion on
whether reactors can be granted life extensions in 2015 and
decide reactor by reactor in 2018-2019.
($1 = 0.7345 Euros)
(Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by James Macharia, Larry