France requires more than the six new nuclear plants currently planned and possibly needs to build more than 14 new plants, its energy minister said, just days before a parliamentary debate begins on the issue.
As nuclear debate nears, French minister sees potential for 14 new reactors

Speaking to weekly newspaper La Tribune Dimanche, Energy Transition Minister AgnèsEPR Pannier-Runacher said it was vital to build more nuclear reactors and increase France’s renewable energy mix to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels to 40% from 60% by 2035.

“We need nuclear power beyond the first six EPRs (European Pressurised Reactors) since the existing (nuclear) park will not be eternal,” Pannier-Runacher said, adding that post-2026 additional needs would be equivalent to 13 gigawatts corresponding to eight EPRs.

President Emmanuel Macron in 2022 placed nuclear power at the heart of his country’s drive for carbon neutrality by 2050, announcing the construction of six new European Pressurised Reactor reactors and studies for a further eight reactors.

The new plants are to be built and operated by state-controlled energy provider EDF with tens of billions of euros in public financing mobilized to finance the projects and safeguard EDF’s finances.

The new energy strategy must be codified into law and is set to be debated in parliament from late January.

Pannier-Runacher said going beyond 14 EPRs would be a “good subject for discussion with lawmakers”, while repeating that renewable energy capacity also needed to be ramped up massively.

Macron’s decision to extend the lifespan of existing nuclear plants to more than 50 years from 40 years for certain reactors marked a U-turn on an earlier pledge to close more than a dozen of EDF’s 56 reactors by 2035.

He has also promised to accelerate the development of solar and offshore wind power.



The best of Tired Earth delivered to your inbox

Sign up for more inspiring photos, stories, and special offers from Tired Earth