For years France has been the poster child for nuclear energy. Making massive investments in infrastructure since the 1960s, the French have enjoyed consistently lower electricity prices than their European neighbors, and as an added bonus they're not beholden to unpredictable suppliers like Russia for natural gas. However, a heat wave this summer put the French nuclear industry to the test. Many French reactors use river water for cooling, so when water temperatures rise too high, they're forced to shut down. In July, with temperatures hovering around 30C (86F), France briefly took offline almost a third of its 60 gigawatts of nuclear generation capacity, according to the London Times. As a result, they actually had to import nuclear energy from England.
In England, the public has been far more outspoken against nuclear power and so its nuclear industry is considerably smaller. Yet they were more than happy help out their Franco brethren. Perhaps this had to do with the fact that domestic UK energy demand has dropped 6 percent due to the recession.
Whatever the tribes and tribulations of nuclear energy, Russia is convinced the future looks bright for the controversial fuel. The country's federal atomic agency has been hard at work on a new type of nuclear power plant it believes could be popular around the world - one that floats on the sea. Learn more about it in this episode of A Minute of Your Time. http://blip.tv/file/3415613