France delays NPP closures

8 November 2016

A French government investment roadmap published 28 October has delayed a decision on promised nuclear reactor decommissioning until after elections next year. The roadmap failed to identify reactors for closure under 2015 legislation that commits France to reduce nuclear power production to 50% of its energy mix from more than 75% at present. Although the final decision on closing reactors is a political one, the Energy Ministry plans effectively pass the responsibility for the decision to Electricite de France, which is to issue a strategic review of plants and energy requirements in spring 2017. The first round of presidential voting is in April, followed by legislative elections in June and a decision now seems unlikely before a new president and assembly has been elected.

Former Prime Minister Alain Juppe, the conservative candidate currently leading the race, has said President Francois Hollande's 50% target is absurd and has promised to cancel it – a position supported by several other right-wing candidates. Lawmaker Herve Mariton, a Juppe ally and prominent energy specialist among the conservative Les Republicains, has also rejected Hollande's plan to close Fessenheim NPP, France's oldest nuclear plant, after a new reactor opens at Flamanville in 2018, Reuters reported. According to the roadmap’s energy investment plan, a decision to close Fessenheim should be taken by the end of the year. The plan also pledged to almost double renewable power output to 150-167TWh by 2030.

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