August 11, 2013

EDF switching from nuclear to renewables

Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant
The French utility EDF, the world's biggest operator of nuclear plants, is pulling out of nuclear energy in the United States, bowing to the realities of a market that has been transformed by cheap shale gas. "Circumstances for the development of nuclear in the U.S. are not favorable at the moment," Proglio said.


Proglio said EDF would now focus on renewable energy in the United States. EDF employs 860 people in U.S. solar and wind, and since 2010 its generating capacity has doubled to 2.3 gigawatts. It manages another 7 gigawatts for other companies. 

Several nuclear reactors in the U.S. have been closed or are being shuttered as utilities balk at the big investments needed to extend their lifetimes now that nuclear power has been so decisively undercut by electricity generated from shale gas.

"The spectacular fall of the price of gas in the U.S., which was unimaginable a few years ago, has made this form of energy ultra-competitive vis a vis all other forms of energy," EDF Chief Executive Henri Proglio told a news conference.

EDF agreed with its partner Exelon Corp. on an exit from their Constellation Energy Nuclear Group (CENG) joint venture, which operates five nuclear plants in the United States with a total capacity of 3.9 gigawatts.

EDF, Europe's biggest power producer by output, also employs 320 staff in its U.S. energy trading operation, which is the No. 1 exporter of U.S. coal to Europe. [Reuters]

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