France’s pilot European Pressurized Water Reactor (EPR) will be built at Flamanville in Lower Normandy. Electricité de France (EdF) will construct the 1600MWe unit alongside Flamanville’s two existing 1300MWe PWRs.

Other sites under consideration had been Tricastin, already home to four 900MWe PWRs on the Rhône river and Penly, which had been highly favoured for its comprehensive infrastructure. Flamanville, is thought to have been chosen because of greater local support.

EdF must now submit the proposal to the National Commission for Public Debate which will organise a year-long discussion of the project before the licensing procedure can begin. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2007 with the plant entering service in 2012, just over two years after the first-of-a-kind EPR, Finland’s Olkiluoto 3.

EdF is intending to gather investment in the r3 billion project from Belgian, German, Italian and Spanish utilities before rolling out about ten of the units across France.

Jean-Pierre Raffarin described the decision to build the EPR as “one of the most important I have taken as prime minister.” He said that the move is key to the future of EdF “in industrial terms and in terms of financial structure and legal status.”