French Agreement Outlines Nuclear "Rebalancing"

[UPDATED] The French nuclear power industry has signed an agreement with labor unions and the French government designed to set goals and broadly defined strategies for the country’s energy future, but only through 2022.

nuclear power, FranceThe agreement focuses on “high stakes projects,” a government statement said. To that end, the largest nuclear industry groups EDF and Framatome have agreed to push ahead with both large and small reactors. Framatome will focus on a new design for the delay-plagued EPR reactor, while EDF, French Alternative Energies and the Atomic Energy Commission will focus on small modular reactor development.

The agreement is meant to define, in part, the country’s transition to a new energy generation profile that is currently made up of about 75 percent nuclear power. The push for renewable energy sources coupled with fears of a major accident in the post Fukushima Dai-ichi era, has prompted the country to re-evaluate its energy priorities.

Former French President Francois Holland pledged to put nuclear power on a path of reduction, aiming to bring it down to 50 percent of the generation mix by 2025 before stepping down in 2017. His successor, Emmanuel Macron, has taken a more reasoned approach, intending to reduce nuclear power to 50 percent by 2035 if it can be done without jeopardizing France’s energy independence.

To do that requires France close down 14 nuclear power plants, Macron has said.

 The Minister for Ecological and Solidarity Transition Francois de Rugy has said nuclear power remains a vital part of the country’s low-carbon future. The aim is not an elimination of nuclear power, he said, but “rebalancing in which nuclear has its place.”

“We consider that in the production of electricity in France, and probably in Europe and in the world, nuclear power can play a role, since it presents a completely carbon-free production,” he said.

The contract “defines the roadmap and reciprocal commitments between industry, the state and trade unions to build the future of the nuclear industry and support the achievement of projects with high stakes, particularly on skills, digital transformation, R&D and exports,” said Framatome President and Chief Executive Officer Bernard Fontana.

To emphasis the industry’s importance, the government statement noted 2,600 businesses were involved in the nuclear power industry with 85 percent of those small or medium sized businesses. The industry generates $57 billion annually and accounts for 220,000 jobs in France. In addition, almost a quarter of the industry’s business, 22 percent, is derived from exports.

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  • Anonymous

    They will be selling power to the foolish Germans who are cutting both nuclear and coal for the dubious goal of Green energy...

    Germany will remove itself as an economic force as it becomes dependent on other countries for its energy.