France will build new nuclear power reactors to help the country lessen its dependence on foreign countries for its energy supplies, meet global warming targets and keep prices under control, president Emmanuel Macron said in a televised speech.
Mr Macron said he will revive the French nuclear programme with the construction of new EPR-type nuclear reactors – known as the EPR2 – in the coming years.
“We will for the first time in decades restart the construction of nuclear reactors in our country and continue to develop renewable energy,” he said.
This will guarantee France’s energy independence, guarantee its electricity supply and help France achieve key objectives including carbon neutrality in 2050, Mr Macron said. “If we want to pay reasonable rates for our energy, we must continue to save energy and invest in the production of carbon-free energy on our soil.”
Mr Macron gave no details, but his government is expected to announce the construction of up to six EPR2 plants within the coming weeks.
Previously, the government had said it would not launch any new EPR reactor projects until state-owned EDF’s delayed Flamanville-3 EPR is completed.
But French media in October reported that the impact of Europe’s gas crisis on energy prices, and the knock-on effect on household spending power, had accelerated Paris’s decision to commit to the new EPR technology.
France has 56 commercial nuclear power reactors that provide about 70% of its electricity, the highest share of any country.
He said Europe will never have enough renewable energy capacity to produce sufficient green hydrogen and that France’s nuclear plants are a major asset for doing this.