6 Mar (NucNet): The Normandy region of France has put itself forward as a candidate site for the construction of a new generation of French EPR nuclear power units, Paris-based nuclear society SFEN said.
SFEN said Hervé Morin, president of the Normandy region, and Jean-Bernard Lévy, president of state-owned utility and nuclear operator EDF, had officially put forward the region as a site for two new EPRs, known as the EPR 2.
French President Emmanuel Macron said last month the country will decide around 2022 whether EDF will be allowed to build new nuclear reactors.
He said the EPR must be part of a package of technological options for tomorrow and France must maintain an industrial capacity to build new reactors. Mr Macron said France needed its EPR technology “for sovereignty issues” and said the government and EDF will work together on “the issues of industrial capacity” of the [nuclear] sector and “the economic optimisation of a new reactor model”.
The country’s energy plan, published in January, calls for four to six nuclear reactors to be permanently shut down by 2023 and a cap to be placed on nuclear generation capacity of 63.2 GW, roughly where it is today.
The plan says 14 reactors should be shut down by 2035, but adds that decisions will be based on “the evolution of electricity consumption and exports, the development of renewable energies, the findings of the [nuclear regulator] ASN and the priority of ensuring security of supply”.
Mr Lévy said the nuclear industry in Normandy already employs 28,000 people at three nuclear power stations, Flamanville, Penly and Paluel, and a spent fuel treatment and recycling site at La Hague. “The regional economic benefits for this leading industry, the third largest industrial sector in France after aeronautics and automotive, are of the order of one billion euros a year,” he said.
The Flamanville-3 EPR plant under construction in Normandy is the first of its kind in France, but has been hit by cost overruns and delays. Hot testing at the plant, previously scheduled to start by the end of 2018, is now scheduled to begin in the second half of February, EDF said earlier this year.
Faulty weldings discovered last year forced EDF to delay the start-up date for the 1,600-MW Generation III plant to the second quarter of 2020 and announce an increase in the cost of the project to €10.5bn and then to €10.9bn. An estimate of the cost in July 2011 was €8bn.
SFEN said that in the long term, between 2030 and 2050, France is planning to renew part of its current nuclear fleet with new units. A study is to be carried out by mid-2021 to define a new-build programme that will lead to a reduction in costs, SFEN said.
According to EDF one of the aims of the EPR 2 project is to increase competitiveness. “The goal of the EPR 2 project is to have a competitive model on the new production means market by 2030,” the company said.