France’s Macron goes nuclear

February 14, 2022, 7:06AMANS Nuclear Cafe


As part of its drive for carbon neutrality by 2050, France will build at least six new nuclear reactors in the coming decades, according to a February 10 article from Reuters. "What our country needs, and the conditions are there, is the rebirth of France's nuclear industry," French president Emmanuel Macron said as he announced France’s new nuclear strategy.

Macron also said that he wanted to extend the life spans of France’s existing nuclear plants.

The price tag: The six new plants would be built and operated by state-controlled energy provider EDF, which has estimated the cost of those plants total at about 50 billion euros (about $57 billion), depending on financing conditions, according to the article.

The first new reactor, an evolution of the European Pressurized Reactor (EPR), would come on line by 2035, Macron said. The article added that the country would embark on a study to determine whether a further eight reactors beyond the initial six would be needed.

Change plan: Nuclear’s future in France seemed to have dimmed when Macron and his predecessor, François Hollande, looked to reduce its role in the country’s electricity production. But, according to the article, Macron's thinking changed when the European Union set ambitious goals for carbon neutrality within three decades. The EU put a focus on energy forms that emit fewer, or zero, greenhouse gases than fossil fuels, including nuclear.

France will also increase its solar power capacity tenfold by 2050 to more than 100 gigawatts and will build 50 offshore wind farms with a combined capacity of at least 40 GW, the article noted.

Not onboard: The négaWatt Association, a green energy campaign group, accused Macron of "deepening France's addiction" to nuclear, according to the article.

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