Are nuclear power plants too vulnerable to climate change?


THE CHEKING PROCESS – The rise in temperatures and the drop in flow of water courses threaten their safety and their productivity, assure the atom slayers.

THE QUESTION. Nuclear energy, which makes it possible to produce low-carbon electricity, is considered by its defenders as an essential lever to achieve carbon neutrality by the middle of the century and thus limit the impact of global warming. But is its operation itself adapted to the deregulation already underway? During the program “C ce soir” on France5, Mathilde Panot, LFI member of the Val-de-Marne, assured on September 28 that this was not the case, in particular because it is necessary to cool the nuclear reactors and “we know, for example, that the Rhône will see its flow drop by 40%. And that every summer we close reactors because we have to cool them.

The question of the vulnerability of power plants to global warming comes up regularly in the debate: we know that the latter causes an overall increase in air and water temperature, that it induces an increased risk of multiplication of events. extremes like storms and droughts. In addition, the Explore2070 project responsible for assessing its impact on water resources by 2070 in France concludes that “a significant overall decrease in average annual flows across the territory (…) of the order of 10% to 40% depending on the simulations“. Are power stations that depend on cooling water for their safety at risk from global warming?

CHECKS. Nuclear power, which provides approximately

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