Fast Breeder Reactors in France

Mycle Schneider, "Fast Breeder Reactors in France," Science & Global Security, 17, no. 1, (2009): 36-53.
France is the only country in the world ever to operate a commercial scale (1,200 MWe) sodium cooled, plutonium fuelled fast breeder reactor, the Superphénix at Creys-Malville. However, the French fast breeder reactor program turned out to be too costly and could never compete with light water reactor technology. Numerous technical problems, low uranium prices and massive opposition exacerbated the poor economic and operational performance of the fast breeder reactor. Superphénix only operated about half of the time that it was officially connected to the grid and was shut down in 1998 with a lifetime load factor of less than 7%. The Superphénix predecessor, Phénix at Marcoule, which began operating in 1973 and will be shut down later in 2009, has experienced numerous sodium leaks and fires and a series of potentially serious reactivity incidents. The lifetime load factor of approximately 45% is one of the lowest in the world.

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