HomeDocument databaseFessenheim: the Second Step in a Disastrous Drift

Fessenheim: the Second Step in a Disastrous Drift

  • Published on 14 June 2020
Save the Climate
  • Economy
  • Fossil fuels
  • Climate
  • CO2 and GHG
  • Nuclear electricity

Fessenheim: the Second Step in a Disastrous Drift




Next June 30, the second reactor at the Fessenheim nuclear power plant will be shut down for good. This means an annual continuous production capacity of 6 TWh of decarbonized electricity will be scrapped although it could have continued to generate safe power for many years.

This counter-signal once again calls into question the ability of our governments to make their decisions consistent with their rhetoric.

What indeed do we hear?

That the world after the Covid 19 crisis will necessarily be different from the one before, more united, more mindful of the planetary stakes...

And what is actually going on?

  • on February 22nd this year, the first reactor at the Fessenheim nuclear power plant was permanently shutdown: the replacement of its output by the equivalent European production capacity generates an additional 2 million metric tons CO2 per year.
  • A 1,100 MW coal-fired power plant was commissioned in Germany in April. The so-called champion of renewable energies does not comply with its CO2 emissions reduction commitments and has to build and operate this plant which will emit 9 million metric tons CO2 per year. As the electricity network is interconnected at the European scale, this construction is not unrelated to the Fessenheim plant shutdown. Indeed, the shutdown of dispatchable means of production (which will be considerable in the coming years), cannot be compensated by intermittent renewable sources whose production remains variable and uncertain.
  • On June 30th, the second reactor at the Fessenheim nuclear power plant will be permanently shutdown: its replacement by the equivalent production capacity in Europe will also generate an additional 2 million metric tons CO2 per year.

In the space of a few months, then, here are 13 million metric tons per year of additional emissions, the result of perfectly avoidable political decisions. Responsibility for their harmful consequences will have to be assumed.

After the decommissioning of the first reactor at Fessenheim, in an opinion column, seven Cabinet members welcomed what they described as a historic step. It may be an historic step in terms of elections, which will allow them to cherry-pick a few votes, but it is certainly not an historic step for our planet, which is nevertheless reminding us of the climate urgency more and more often, and to which our politicians are only paying lip service.

We reaffirm that terminating this reactor represents a triple mistake:

  • a serious rollback in the struggle against climate change
  • abandonment of an essential asset for the country and of 2,000 highly-skilled jobs
  • a significant risk for the guarantee of electricity supply in France and Europe

Last April, the decree on Multiannual Energy Programming (Programmation Pluriannuelle de l'Energie or PPE) was published which, after months of consultation that served to listen mostly to those who agreed with the Prince, endorses the pursuit of a French strategy that demonstrates, week after week, that it is bad for the climate, excessively costly and puts at risk the security of electricity supply for the French people.

The illustration of this absurdity was not long in coming. On June 11, the Minister
for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition (Transition Écologique et Solidaire) communicated her concerns about security of supply during the 2020-2021 winter. She announced a whole series of measures for load shedding, hoping, according to her statements, to eliminate "the equivalent of the production of 2 nuclear reactors", i.e. very precisely the production that France has deprived itself of by closing the Fessenheim power plant...

Wake up! Let's face reality!
Let's stop running straight into the wall!
Let's turn our backs on demagogy and act... efficiently!



English translation: Elisabeth HUFFER (Save The Climate)