France will construct six new nuclear power reactors, consider building a further eight and push ahead with the development of small modular reactors, President Emmanuel Macron has said.
The time is right for a nuclear renaissance in France, Macron said, adding he had made two important decisions regarding this.
EDF has undertaken with the nuclear sector the design of a new reactor for the French market, the EPR2, which has already mobilised more than one million hours of engineering and presents significant progress compared with the EPR of Flamanville.
Preparatory projects will be started in the coming weeks, Macron said, including finalisation of the design studies, referral to the national commission for public debate, definition of the locations of the three pairs of reactors and a ramp-up of the nuclear sector.
Macron said the government, in agreement with the European Commission, would implement a new regulation of nuclear electricity that will replace the existing ARENH mechanism.
Under ARENH, set up to foster competition, rival energy suppliers can buy electricity produced by EDF’s French nuclear power plants that were commissioned before 8 December 2010.
Nuclear accounts for almost 75% of France’s power production, but former French president Francois Hollande had aimed to limit its share of the national electricity generation mix to 50% by 2025, and to close Fessenheim – the country’s oldest nuclear power plant – by the end of his five-year term, in May 2017.