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France to Decide on Eight More Nuclear Reactors by End of 2026

  • That’s in addition to six atomic plants France already plans
  • Nuclear is part of country’s plan to shift from fossil fuels

France will decide by the end of 2026 on whether to build another eight large nuclear reactors in addition to the six atomic plants it already plans to construct.

President Emmanuel Macron has already said that France could build as many as 14 new reactors by 2050 as part of the country’s plan to become carbon neutral by the middle of the century. The end-2026 deadline — unveiled in a government document Wednesday — would be just months before the next presidential election.

The update to the country’s energy and climate strategy, which takes into account Europe’s goal to speed up emissions by 2020, largely confirms plans outlined in recent months. As well as doubling down on nuclear, France will accelerate the rollout of clean power and renewable fuels, and invest more in energy-saving measures in homes, offices and factories.

Macron is pushing for more new nuclear plants and to extend lifetimes of existing ones to help meet power demand as the economy shifts away from fossil fuels. The government has bought out minority shareholders of Electricite de France SA, which has grappled in recent years with defects at its aging reactors, as well as construction cost overruns at new atomic projects in France and the UK.

“We will have a more precise view of the deployment pace” of each energy type at the end of 2026, and assess the costs and benefits of new atomic projects, Energy Transition Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said in an interview published on Le Monde’s website on Tuesday.

By then, EDF will have added a 57th reactor — in Flamanville — to the grid, and will have progressed on a plan to add more atomic facilities both at home and in the UK, she said.

EDF is expected to make a final investment decision for the first six new large-scale reactors by the end of 2024, with a view for them to come online between 2035 and 2042, the government document showed. Several financing options are being considered, including direct state investment and private funding, as the debt-laden utility won’t be able to bear the whole cost alone.

The nuclear giant aims to start building a small modular reactor from 2030, according to the document. The government will also encourage the development of innovative types of small reactors.

The main targets of France’s energy and climate strategy include:

  • Reducing energy consumption by between 40% and 50% by 2050.
  • Cutting the share of fossil fuels in final energy consumption to 29% in 2035 from 58% in 2021.
  • Increasing power output by 10% in 2030 from 2021 levels, and by 55% in 2050.
  • Doubling low-carbon heat production by 2035.

Source: Bloomberg