In La Tribune 05/10/2021
With great interest I listened Sandra Regol, national secretary of EELV, speaking on a news channel on September 30, 2021, about Germany importing natural gas whose inflation attacks the purchasing power of Europeans. In defense of the German energy transition, EELV claimed that France has no independent energy since “France imports its uranium”.
Is Germany more independent than France?
Although it disrupts the German electricity market, the interconnected European market and consequently leads to a surge in French electricity prices, the gigantic German Energiewende plan is successful because of the impressive intermittent wind power produced over-Rhine. But good news has its own limits: Berlin can no longer peppered its territory with wind turbines, the population and the law refuse to do so.
Less German coal means importing more Russian gas despite all the Navalnys, more American shale gas despite future Trumps, or more Gulf gas despite human rights. In the end, German gas dependence succeeds coal independence.
Similarly, German renewables mean metal dependence, because neither wind nor sun generates electricity, but the metals in the turbines and generators that interface with it. Which metals? Not those of the stupid “rare metals” infoxication, invented and financed by the pro-oil to belittle ecology and guide populism ; but the base metals, none of which are produced from German soil. Nor does Germany itself extract these minerals from foreign territory. There are no German mining companies capable of doing so, they are confined to lignite and coal in Germany. For this reason, German renewables are doubly dependent on foreign countries: metals on the one hand, mining companies on the other, and even Asian renewable energy OEM.
EELV thinks that France is no better than Germany with its nuclear energy because “France imports its uranium”. It is good to hear this non-ideological argument, because in energy we should not think in a static way like a Malthus who would join the Solar Temple sect in order to destroy human progress, but in a dynamic way with science and innovation that accompanies the human race.
The dynamic reasoning reveals that Germany will always be dependent on mines located abroad since the recycling of wind turbines and solar panels is imperfect. It thus demonstrates that the “green jobs” of German renewables are backed by the “black jobs” of coal or gas, without the latter the “green jobs” collapse.
On the French side, the dynamic reasoning reveals that a French company produces uranium from its mines abroad, but it could produce it in France since we have uranium resources there. Moreover, the share of this fresh uranium in French nuclear power plants has already decreased thanks to the use of waste fuel. That is, fuel burned in reactors does not come from mines, but from used and recycled nuclear fuel. This is the first step in the nuclear circular economy and the first French independence today.
Free waste to recycle
The second French independence will consist in burning atomic loads that are 100% made of used fuel in fast neutron reactors (FNR). Why? Where 140 tons of fresh mined uranium are needed in a current power plant to produce 1 GW of electricity, only 1.4 tons of for free waste, since it is already stored in France, turned into recycled fuel are needed to produce the same amount of electricity as in a FNR. 100 times less. And, beware, as already explained many times, including one day to the head of Greenpeace France, our country has on its soil a quantity of used fuel capable of producing electricity for free and in total independence for 5,000 to 10,000 years to come. In other words, for 5,000 to 10,000 years (the imprecision of the figure is an advantage here), French electricity will be independent of uranium mining, there will be no need to pay to extract it from the subsoil or to import it, unlike other countries that will have lost all autonomy.
The difficulty is that this French electrical independence destroys an Green dogma. It eliminates the problem of waste, as soon as it is burned and disappears in the FNR.
Nevertheless, this second stage of the nuclear circular economy will ensure that the price of electricity is kept under control forever, since the raw material is already here for free. Forever, because after 5,000 to 10,000 years, this controllable, non-intermittent electricity with free fuel will have enabled us to discover a new form of energy.
Perhaps this will be thorium or the abandonment of nuclear fission and the embarkation for ITER, the energy of the stars. That is to say that two buckets of sea water will allow each French person to have electricity for a lifetime, without generating waste. This is the third and last step of the nuclear circular economy.
The problem is no longer one of independence, since it has been solved for 5,000 to 10,000 years; nor is it one of new uranium mining resources, since the used fuel is in our country and Gaia will also save the extraction of metals necessary for renewables; nor is it one of purchasing power, since the used fuel is for free; nor is it one of technology, since FNRs are already in operation in the leading countries of nuclear circular economy.
A political problem
The problem is political. That is to say, making the distinction between the time of one’s own existence and the eternity of humanity’s life expectancy: the metals of renewables are in the time of one’s existence, the nuclear circular economy is in that of eternity.
I know, it will be easy to stigmatize this paper as nuclear lobbyism, which it is not. But a portrait of Ms. Regol, whose commitments are worth considering, was circulated online on the occasion of the September 2020 Alfortville-Vitry by-election campaign. It indicates that “if alone we go faster, together we go further when we know how to listen, share and work collectively by making our differences a strength and not a hindrance.
How can we not approve this vision, and, in the context of the next presidential election, put together the differences on nuclear power and collectively go further.