Graveline's Nuclear Output: More than a Milestone

One thousand billion kilowatt-hours equals one petawatt hour, which is approximately the amount of electricity generated from burning 386 million tons (350 million metric tons) of coal or 243 million tons (220 million metric tons) of oil. Had coal been used to generate the electricity produced by Gravelines, 1,100 million tons (1,000 million metric tons) of carbon dioxide would have been emitted into the atmosphere.

  • Net Capacity: 5,460 megawatts
  • Location: Nord, France
  • Number of Reactors: 6
  • Output (2010): 36,625.432 gigawatt-hours

Gravelines nuclear power plant cemented its place in history on Aug. 27, 2010, when it delivered its 1,000 billionth kilowatt-hour of electricity. Until then, no other nuclear power site had generated that much -- the figure is twice the amount of electricity consumed annually in the whole of France [source: World Nuclear News].

The French facility isn't the biggest or oldest power plant in the world. How, then, does it manage to consistently churn out power in order to reach the historic milestone before its contemporaries? Gravelines says it owes it success to efficient facility operation and maintenance, standardization procedures and a highly skilled staff. Efficiency like this doesn't just generate more power, however. In more than 30 years of operation, Gravelines has never had a significant safety incident.

The power plant has made a big impact on the local community as well. In three decades of operation, the facility has contributed more than $11 billion in workers' wages and taxes [source: World Nuclear News]. Each of the six reactors at Gravelines is expected to be in operation for another 30 years. If things keep going the way they are, there's no reason to doubt that it will deliver its next 1,000 billionth kilowatt-hour before retiring.