French Ecology Minister Francois de Rugy said on 4 October that the closure of France’s oldest nuclear plant at Fessenheim was not conditional on the startup of the Framanville 3 EPR in Normandy, and that it would be shut down by 2022.

The government had previously tied the shutdown of Fessenheim’s two 900MWe reactors to the commissioning  Flamanville 3 but startup of that unit has been delayed over safety concerns. De Rugy said EDF had been unable give any clarity on when Flamanville’s new EPR reactor would come online. In July, problems with weldings forced EDF  to push back the startup date again to the second quarter of 2020 after nuclear regulator ASN said further repairs would be needed.

Former French president Francois Hollande’s government signed a decree in April 2017 stating that the Fessenheim nuclear power plant would halt power production by April 2020 once Flamanville 3 was operational. This was linked to a pledge to reduce reliance on nuclear energy in France from 75% to 50%. However, on 3 October, press reports suggested that France will adopt a slower approach to reducing the nuclear share, with a focus on cutting carbon emissions, in its new long-term energy plan.

France’s long-awaited energy plan for 2019-2023 and 2024-2028 is set to lay out how and by when the country will cut the share of nuclear in its overall power generation and detail how many of EDF’s 58 nuclear plants will have to close to achieve that target.