France makes massive nuclear bet
French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Thursday that the government will back the construction of six new nuclear reactors across the country. The first will enter service by 2035, according to the French leader.
“We must continue the great adventure of civil nuclear power in France,” Macron told the media on a visit to the eastern city of Belfort – the home of General Electric's France-based turbine unit. He also announced the commissioning of a study to assess the feasibility for a further eight reactors.
“Given the electricity needs, the need to anticipate the transition, the end of the existing fleet, we are going to launch today a program of new nuclear reactors,” Macron declared.
The six new units will be EPRs – originally known as European Pressurized Water Reactors – which have been designed and developed by French company Framatome and its parent Électricité de France (EDF). The technology is also being used in the UK’s Hinkley Point power station and in Taishan, China.
The new EPR reactors will be supplemented by small modular reactors (SMR) with the aim of creating “25 gigawatts of new nuclear capacity by 2050,” Macron said.
The president added that he had made two further big decisions. He said he had asked EDF to study the conditions for extending the lifespan of a reactor beyond 50 years and claimed he wanted future reactors to be ever-lasting, only shutting down for safety reasons.
France has strongly supported the development of its nuclear industry throughout the last four decades, however neighboring Germany has phased out nuclear power, with environmental and safety concerns at the heart of its reasoning.