French President Emmanuel Macron’s government sees “no problem” funding the six new nuclear reactors he has proposed building, a project that by one estimate could cost at least €51 billion ($54 billion).
“We trust the nuclear industry, there’s no difficulty ahead to fund nuclear reactors announced by the president,” government spokesman Olivier Veran said after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday. “The funding framework will be introduced, believe me, there’s no problem.”
Macron last year made a U-turn on a previous pledge to cut back France’s reliance on nuclear energy by promising to build at least six new nuclear reactors slated to enter into service from 2035, and up to 14 reactors in total. France gets about 70% of its electricity from nuclear power.
Luc Remont, the chief executive of electricity utility Electricite de France SA, which operates the country’s nuclear reactors, told lawmakers during a hearing on Tuesday that the construction of the six reactors would cost at least €51 billion, cautioning that that was just a “rough estimate.”
EDF is being nationalized by the government, and Remont said the company can’t bear the cost of the new reactors by itself, suggesting the state would have to step in.
Earlier this week, Macron called for the European Investment Bank to invest in low-carbon energy, including nuclear power. On Wednesday, his minister for energy transition, Agnes Pannier-Runacher, who is trying to build an alliance of pro-nuclear countries to weigh in on European Union negotiations, said the funding of future nuclear reactors would be presented by the end of the year. She ruled out higher taxes.