28.11.2018_No236 / News in Brief

France’s President Macron Unveils Plans For Cautious Reduction Of Nuclear Share

Policies & Politics

28 Nov (NucNet): French president Emmanuel Macron has said the country will move more slowly than promised to limit the amount of energy it derives from nuclear.

The Fessenheim nuclear station will be first to close.

Mr Macron said France will shut down 14 commercial nuclear reactors by 2035 out of 58, all operated by state-controlled utility EDF, now in commercial operation.

In a speech on energy supply, Mr Macron said France will only close two reactors – Fessenheim-1 and Fessenheim-2 – before the end of the current presidential mandate in 2022. He said the two units would probably be shut down by 2020.

The president said nuclear would remain a key element in national power supply but a decision on building new nuclear reactors would not be taken before mid-2021.

He said France would cap the amount of electricity it derives from nuclear plants at 50% by 2035, which is a delay compared with the goal of 2025 set by his predecessor Francois Hollande.

He said 14 of EDF’s 58 reactors would be closed by 2035, including “four to six” before 2030, two in 2027-28 and possibly two in 2025-26 if this does not jeopardise the security of power supply.

Mr Macron said France will not phase out nuclear entirely, as its neighbours Germany and Belgium are planning to do.

France produces more nuclear energy than any other country, getting about 71% of its electricity from its fleet of reactors at 19 nuclear stations.

“I was not elected on a promise to exit nuclear power but to reduce the share of nuclear in our energy mix to 50%,” Mr Macron said in an hour-long televised speech.

The previous government of socialist Mr Hollande passed a law aiming to reduce the share of nuclear to 50% by 2025. Mr Macron had committed to respect that promise in his election platform, but a few months after his election he dropped the objective.

Mr Macron said the closure schedule would depend on the evolution of France’s energy mix, including the planned increase of renewable energy sources and the expansion of interconnection capacity with neighbouring countries.

“It is a pragmatic approach, which takes into account security of supply,” he said, adding that France would not close nuclear reactors to the point that it would have to import power from other countries.

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David Dalton

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