A River Runs Through It
Forty-four of France's 59 nuclear power plants are inland, which means they depend on nearby rivers rather than the sea for water to cool their reactors. Droughts that drain those rivers are a serious concern in France. The water shortages resulting from drought can potentially compromise reactor cooling at the majority of its nuclear complexes.
- Net Capacity: 5,200 megawatts
- Location: Normandy, France
- Number of Reactors: 4
- Output (2010): 34,989.313 gigawatt-hours
With 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear energy, France is tres serious about nuclear power. It's not surprising then that three nuclear power plants on this list are located on French soil. Cattenom, whose four reactors sit on a site in Normandy bordering Germany and Luxembourg, is the third largest power plant in France in terms of net capacity. In 2010, it delivered 34,989.313 gigawatt-hours to the grid, enough to meet the electricity needs for the entire state of Nevada [source: IAEA PRIS, KU Institute for Policy & Social Research].
Cattenom's location has created some uneasiness among its neighbors, however. Its close proximity to Luxembourg, a country that has no nuclear facilities, makes Luxembourg's health and policy experts particularly vigilant regarding nuclear reactor safety. A nuclear accident at its doorstep isn't something Luxembourg would like to see happen in the future. Although reactors at the facility underwent and passed a recent stress test, the Luxembourg health ministry remained unconvinced that Cattenom does not pose a significant safety risk. These concerns precipitated further investigation and review by French authorities and organizations with expertise on reactors and industrial sites. As a result, in November 2011, it was recommended that additional safety measures be implemented at the Cattenom facility.