The French nuclear trap

Synopsis

For the last 50 years, France has generated 75% of its electricity through nuclear power – the only country in the world to do so. This dependence is now sending the state-owned company EDF towards bankruptcy. The new French EPR reactor has experienced many completion delays in Flamanville, France, and in Finland. The costs keep on rising and France is now spending tens of billions in a bid to master this excessively complex technology. So why has France approved the construction of two more EPRs in the UK at Hinkley Point despite fierce opposition even within EDF? An increasing number of countries are phasing out nuclear power, we still do not know how to decommission plants at the end of their lifespan and the cost of renewables is constantly falling. France is finding itself increasingly isolated in its pro-nuclear choices. These choices weigh very heavily on the State’s budget and mean that France is lagging extremely behind in the energy transition. Who will pay the bill for nuclear energy? A film written et directed by Patrick Benquet

Director's statement

Those who champion nuclear energy view the world through an industry, the decline of which they refuse to acknowledge. The revolution of renewables underway in our societies is seen as an attack. They stubbornly maintain that nuclear power generates safer and cheaper electricity than all the other energy sources… Our film strives to demonstrate that not only is this argument wrong, but that it is concealing a disastrous financial reality: the bill that future generations will have to pay due to nuclear power is colossal. Each nuclear disaster (Chernobyl, Fukushima), by increasing the obligation for new safety measures, sends costs spiralling and results in the construction of prototypes such as the EPR, which is exorbitant and so technologically complicated that many engineers are now saying that it will never work.

Why we selected this film

This comprehensive report filmed in France, China, Germany, the UK and Japan explains the challenges facing the nuclear industry and the reasons why the French government is refusing to phase out nuclear power, despite warnings from experts. Interviews with EDF employees, who view the situation as insiders, highlight an extremely worrying state of affairs and ask us to consider the future of this particularly French industry.