Macron announces France is to build up to 14 new nuclear reactors

Nuclear energy currently provides about 70 per cent of French electricity, a higher proportion than in any other country

Samuel Webb
Thursday 10 February 2022 17:21
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<p>French president Emmanuel Macron has announced plans for 14 new nuclear power plants </p>

French president Emmanuel Macron has announced plans for 14 new nuclear power plants

President Emmanuel Macron has announced that France will build up to 14 new reactors as part of a “renaissance” for the French nuclear industry.

The new reactors are to be built as part of the country’s strategy to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.

The French leader said the new plants would be built and operated by state-controlled energy provider EDF, and that tens of billions of euros in public financing would be mobilised to pay for the projects, safeguarding EDF’s finances.

Mr Macron provided a roadmap for the building of third-generation EPR (European Pressurised water Reactor) facilities during a visit to the eastern town of Belfort today.

“What our country needs – and the conditions are there – is the rebirth of France’s nuclear industry,” the president said.

Promising to accelerate the development of solar and offshore wind power in France, Mr Macron also announced that he wanted to extend the lifespan of older nuclear plants to 50 years or more, from 40 years currently, provided it was safe to do so.

The move comes amid concerns about spikes in energy prices, as well as France’s dependence on global gas and oil producers.

Nuclear energy currently provides about 70 per cent of French electricity, a higher proportion than in any other country.

Mr Macron’s decision to extend the lifespan of existing plants marked a U-turn on an earlier pledge to close more than a dozen of EDF’s 56 reactors by 2035. Nuclear safety still divides Europe following Japan’s Fukushima disaster.

France lobbied hard for nuclear energy to be labelled as sustainable under new European Commission rules on green financing. If the new EU taxonomy rules are approved, it should reduce the cost of funding nuclear energy projects.

Mr Macron said the state would assume its responsibilities in securing EDF’s finances, indicating that the government may inject fresh capital into the 84 per cent state-owned firm.

EDF’s EPR reactors have suffered a troubled history. EPR projects at Flamanville in France and Hinkley Point in Britain are running years behind schedule, and billions over budget, while EPR reactors in China and Finland have been hit by technical issues.

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