Macron's Nuclear Power Strategy Will Be Clear by Year End, Ecology Minister Says
(Bloomberg) -- French President Emmanuel Macron will probably say by the end of the year whether he supports the construction of new nuclear plants as part of the country’s plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, Ecology Minister Barbara Pompili said.
Building new reactors alongside additional solar and wind power capacity is the cheapest way to achieve that target, the French grid operator said in a report Monday. Electricity demand is expected to rise as governments crack down on fossil fuels to fight global warming.
“The president will probably express his preference and his orientation on the scenarios before the end of the year,” Pompili told reporters in Paris Tuesday. Still, there wouldn’t be a final decision before next April’s presidential elections, she said.
The French atomic industry, led by state-controlled Electricite de France SA, is urging the government to start constructing nuclear plants as soon as possible. That’s because most of EDF’s 56 existing reactors -- which provide more than two-thirds of France’s electricity -- are due to be shut by 2050 or earlier.
A report on the cost of new nuclear plants will be published in coming weeks, Pompili said. Damaging delays, cost overruns and technical failings have afflicted the country’s nuclear sector in recent years, raising questions about EDF’s ability to build new plants on budget.
To prepare for the project, EDF has streamlined its processes and is modifying the design of its flagship European pressurized reactor to make it easier to build. It’s also in preliminary talks to buy the General Electric Co. unit that makes and maintains turbines for atomic power stations, the utility said last month.
The government will help EDF and its partners develop small modular nuclear reactors by 2030, Macron said earlier this month.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.