France wants to build 14 new nuclear plants

Unlike Germany, which shut down its last reactors in April last year, the country is betting big on atomic energy to replace coal and reduce its carbon emissions. France has increased the total number of new nuclear plants it plans to build in the coming years from six to 14 years. This information was provided by French Energy Minister Agnes Panier Ronacher in a statement to the Tribune Dimanche newspaper.

In Flamanville, the first EPR reactor is supposed to enter the testing phase in mid-2024.

In Flamanville, the first EPR reactor is supposed to enter the testing phase in mid-2024.

Photo: Deutsche Welle/Deutsche Welle

The construction of the additional eight reactors, which has so far been only an “option” within the government, should be included in a draft law to be discussed by Parliament at the end of January.

Unlike Germany, France is betting big on nuclear energy as a way to replace coal plants and reduce carbon emissions. Paris wants to reduce the weight of fossil fuels in energy consumption, which currently exceeds 60%, to 40% by 2035.

According to Pannier-Runacher, achieving this goal requires the construction of new plants, starting in 2026, with a total capacity of 13 gigawatts – equivalent, in the words of the minister, to the performance of eight EPR reactors. This measure will also be necessary because the current reactors will not last forever.

The EPR, a third-generation pressurized water reactor developed by France, was designed to revive nuclear power and provide more energy with greater safety after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. There are currently three in operation around the world – one in Finland and one in Finland and one in Finland. Two in China. However, construction in Finland has been problematic, and projects of the type being undertaken in France and the UK suffer from delays and significant cost increases.

The European Union still allows subsidies for nuclear plants

In France, the first EPR reactor, in Flamanville, is scheduled to be connected to the electricity grid for first tests in mid-2024, according to French state energy company EDF. If the forecasts are confirmed, 17 years will pass between construction and operation, with construction costs quadrupling in this period, to reach 12.7 billion euros.

The European Union continues to allow state subsidies for nuclear power plants as part of a planned reform of the European electricity market. The German government defended the measure exclusively for renewable energy, but was ultimately defeated. In Germany, the last three nuclear power plants were taken out of service in April 2023.

RA (AFP, Reuters)

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