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Macron plans up to 14 new nuclear reactors for France

French President Emmanuel Macron has unveiled plans to build six new nuclear reactors, with the possibility of eight more to be studied, if he is re-elected. The new plants would be built and operated by state-controlled energy provider EDF, with the support of tens of billions of Euros in public finance.

The French President emphasised that nuclear power is at the heart of his country’s drive towards carbon neutrality by 2050. ‘What our country needs, and the conditions are there, is the rebirth of France’s nuclear industry,’ said Macron. He also plans to extend the lifespan of older nuclear plants to 50 years or more from 40 years presently, if it was safe.

The first new reactor in the programme will be an evolution of the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR). Construction of EPR2 could begin in 2028, with start-up promised by 2035, although the latest EPR reactor has been dogged by lengthy construction delays. Studies for a further eight reactors beyond the initial six new plants are also promised.

EDF, Framatome and other manufacturers are working together on an optimised EPR design for renewal of the French fleet. The optimised EPR will replicate the best features of the current EPR design and will also incorporate improvements drawn from operating experience in current EPR projects – Flamanville 3, Taishan in China and Hinkley Point C in the UK.

France currently has 56 commercial reactors, which account for 70% of the country’s energy production – the highest share of any country, according to the International Atomic Agency.

France also plans to increase its solar capacity tenfold by 2050 to more than 100 GW, and targets building 50 offshore wind farms with a combined capacity of at least 40 GW. Capacity from land-based wind turbines is planned to double, said Macron.

To protect EDF’s finances and energy security in France, Macron said the government would consider injecting fresh capital into the 84% state-owned company.

Macron made the announcements at the Arabelle turbines plant in Belfort in north-eastern France. In a joint statement, EDF announced that an exclusive deal has been signed to purchase part of GE’s nuclear activity known as ‘steam power’, which includes the Arabelle turbines.

Creation of a new generation of nuclear reactors in France has proved problematic. Previously, the government said it would not launch any new EPR reactor projects until EDF’s much delayed Flamanville-3 EPR reactor is completed. Last month, EDF announced a further rescheduling of the project and said costs have risen by €300mn ($340.2mn).


News Item details

Journal title: Energy World

Region: Europe

Countries: France -

Subjects: Renewables, Energy policy, Nuclear,

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