Europe is facing an energy crisis and it is not getting easier.
According to the Wall Street Journal, multiple nuclear reactors in France are vital to the nation’s energy security. However, they remain offline as there occurred a series of widespread outages believed to be caused by stress-induced pipe corrosion. The solution for this crisis seems to be taking longer than what was expected.
“It’s important that this work restarts as soon as possible,” Emmanuelle Wargon, head of France’s energy regulator, told the WSJ. “If not, the risk of not having electricity rises.”
The nuclear fleet that is being discussed is owned by the energy provider EDF. It has 56 reactors. Out of these, 26 are not working for the moment.
The WSJ states that the pipe problems started emerging late last year when a crack was found in a high-pressure pipe close to the reactor’s core at the country’s youngest nuclear plant. Corrosion issues were then found in the rest of the plants too.
“It is only possible to identify [stress corrosion’s] presence once cracking has begun,” read a note from France’s Institute for Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety, the WSJ reports. “Regular inspections of the pipes can only identify the phenomenon once a fault is present.”
It’s essential to note that the fixes will take quite a long while to fix. Most of the cracks are very close to the reactor core. Hence, radioactivity is a serious threat to technicians, whose exposure must be limited.
French power experts say that they do not have very high hopes for the EDF’s ability to get their reactors back online for the winter, especially given that, per the WSJ’s sources, the timelines for several reactor fixes have already been pushed back by at least six weeks.
These outages are equally detrimental to the entire of Europe.
Natural gas prices have gone up too due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Countries are asking their citizens to be mindful of their usage as the continent needs any ounce of energy that it can save to at least comfortably and securely get through the winter.