Macron says nuclear will remain a key energy source

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PARIS (Reuters) – Nuclear power will remain a key part of France’s energy supply, President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday in a demonstration of support for the industry as he seeks to reduce nuclear dominance as a source of energy.

France has announced that it will reduce its dependence on nuclear power from 75% to 50% by 2035 and has yet to make a final decision on building next-generation EPR nuclear reactors.

This is due by 2023, when EDF’s Flamanville 3 EPR project is expected to be operational, but Macron has said he wants to speed up preparations by next year.

“The preparatory studies around the construction of new reactors are essential and I hope that they will continue and be completed in the months to come,” Macron said during a visit to the manufacturer of nuclear components Framatome, which is part of the from EDF.

EDF, which suffers from delays and cost overruns on existing projects, has already announced its intention to unveil a new, cheaper-to-build version of its EPR nuclear reactor by mid-2021.

Macron nonetheless signaled broad support for the industry, although he stressed the need to shift more towards renewables. He said the next generation French aircraft carrier will be nuclear powered.

“The nuclear industry will remain the cornerstone of our strategic autonomy,” Macron said.

Some environmental activists have denounced the policy, with Greenpeace calling nuclear energy a “bogus solution” to climate change problems, saying it comes with costs that could be better spent on cleaner solutions.

France is the only nuclear power in continental Europe. Britain is also a nuclear power, although its relationship with the European Union – from trade to security – once it leaves the EU’s orbit on January 1, remains uncertain.

Reporting by Gwenaelle Barzic, Geert De Clercq; Written by Matthieu Protard and Sarah White; Editing by Mark Potter


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