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France to relaunch construction of nuclear reactors, Macron announces

French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday announced that France would launch a drive to build new nuclear energy plants in order to better meet growing energy and environmental challenges.

The ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) construction site where will be installed the Tokamak, a confinement device being developed to produce controlled thermonuclear fusion power, in Saint-Paul-les-Durance, southern France.
A general view taken on October 10, 2018 shows the ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) construction site where will be installed the Tokamak, a confinement device being developed to produce controlled thermonuclear fusion power, in Saint-Paul-les-Durance, southern France. (Photo by CHRISTOPHE SIMON / AFP)

“To guarantee France’s energy independence and achieve our objectives, in particular carbon neutrality in 2050, we will for the first time in decades relaunch the construction of nuclear reactors in our country,” Macron said in an address to the nation.

“If we want to pay for our energy at reasonable prices, we need carbon-free energy,” said the President who said the new reactors would be the third generation EPR (Evolutionary Power Reactor) reactors.

“These investments will allow us to step up and meet our commitments as the COP26 in Glasgow closes,” he added.

In October Macron had already announced that France would spend one billion euros by 2030 in “disruptive innovation” to produce atomic power, notably by designing compact nuclear reactors known as “small modular reactors” (SMRs) with improved nuclear waste management.

Macron had asked French electricity giant EDF to study the feasibility of more next-generation EPR reactors.

EPR reactors – which use a pressurised water design – promise advances in safety and efficiency over conventional reactors while producing less waste.

But EDF has faced serious problems rolling out the technology and has managed to sell just a handful of the reactors as construction problems piled up.

EDF has been building an EPR reactor at Flamanville along the Atlantic coast of northwest France. It was originally set to go online in 2012 but the project has been plagued by technical problems and budget overruns.

France relies on nuclear power for nearly 72 percent of its electricity needs. The government initially wanted to reduce this to 50 percent by 2030 or 2035 by developing more renewable energy sources.

In his speech on Tuesday night Macron called for greater investment in green energy without adding more detail.

Member comments

  1. A good initiative though I am curious to know where they source their U-235 from (genuine question as I have no idea).

    1. Australia has the largest uranium reserves, but the US and Canada are also among the top producers. So are Germany and Ukraine. There are many sources, and plenty of it.

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ENERGY

French electricity network says no power cuts before the end of the year

The head of France's electricity transmission network has assured the public that power cuts are not expected before the end of the year, although they remain a slim possibility for the start of 2023.

French electricity network says no power cuts before the end of the year

No power cuts in France before the end of the year, assured Jean-Paul Roubin, the head of France’s electricity transmission network (RTE) and high-voltage lines, speaking to BFMTV on Wednesday.

Roubin answered questions about the possibility of “load-shedding” (délestages) in France this winter. 

“Before the end of the year, there will not be any power cuts,” Roubin told BFMTV, adding that “At the beginning of next year, we should not panic” and that RTE is preparing by testing a number of “possible scenarios.”

READ MORE: What households in France can expect in the event of power cuts

Roubin also explained that should power cuts occur, they would remain “limited,” reiterating that the population concerned by the load-shedding event would be warned at least one day in advance. 

You can learn more about what to expect if you are set to be impacted by a French power cut HERE.

READ MORE: ‘Ecowatt’: How to use France’s new energy forecasting website and app

People across France had begun to worry about possible power cuts before the new year, as “Ecowatt” – France’s energy forecasting website and application – is likely to activate the “orange” alert (symbolising that the grid is strained at that people are encouraged to decrease energy consumption) either this weekend or early next week due to cold temperatures. 

Should the “orange” alert be put into place, it would mark the first time since April 4th. However, Roubin told BFMTV that he did not foresee any blackouts ahead of this weekend. 

Roubin also congratulated the French for a drop in energy consumption. “There is good news to take into account, such as the drop in consumption by more than six percent to 8.3 percent in the last week alone,” the RTE boss said, signaling the role industries and businesses had played in this.

According to public officials, France needs to decrease its energy consumption by ten percent this year to avoid power cuts. 

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