France’s Framatome said on 16 April that some of its projects had been selected to receive funding as part of the France Relance recovery plan. France adopted the plan in September 2020 as a “roadmap for the economic, social and ecological overhaul of the country”. It is the result of a broad national consultation set up to draw lessons from the crisis. The resources allocated to the stimulus package by the French Government and Europe total €100 billion ($119.8bn) for 2020-2022 including €30bn for environment or sustainable growth, €34bn for business competitiveness and €36bn for social cohesion.

Barbara Pompili, Minister of Ecological Transition, Bruno Le Maire, Minister of the Economy, Finance and Recovery, and Agnès Pannier-Runacher, Minister Delegate to the Minister of the Economy, Finance and Recovery, in charge of Industry, announced the first funding recipients as part of the signing of the amendment to the strategic contract for the French nuclear sector.

The Framatome projects selected focus on investing in new activities and modernising the nuclear energy industry. Funding from the France Relance plan will support projects at the company’s nuclear fuel and component manufacturing facilities across France.

Framatome CEO Bernard Fontana said: “Our ambition is to strengthen Framatome’s position as a reference in the nuclear industry in France and on the international market.” Framatome also participated in a consortium of projects with other companies receiving funding.

The FAB-ATF project focuses on developing and qualifying new manufacturing capacity for fabricating accident tolerant fuel (ATF). Significant investments are planned at Framatome's production sites in Paimboeuf and Romans-sur-Isère to develop industrial capacity to serve the French nuclear fleet and customers worldwide. In addition, Framatome and the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), with whom the concept was developed, will conduct tests on irradiated materials to qualify ATF for use in France.

The CAP INDUSTRIEL aims to modernise and scale up production, quality control and compliance of the mechanical parts needed to construct the latest generation of nuclear reactors and modernise and extend operations of those in service around the world. CAP INDUSTRIEL is supported by the Saint-Marcel and Le Creusot factories.

The FRENCH FAB Métallurgie project aims to heighten regulatory controls and enhance the manufacture of large-scale nuclear forgings at the Framatome site in Le Creusot. Framatome said, with support of three laboratories, it is bringing innovations to the manufacturing process for steel parts weighing dozens of tons. Its partners carry out metallurgical studies and develop simulation software, using new measurement tools such as infrared cameras and 3D scans.

Framatome subsidiary Corys received support from France Relance through the ICAREx project. With support from EDF, the ICAREx, the project focuses on building virtual reality digital twins of new nuclear reactors. Framatome said that, each year, it invests more than €200 million in its facilities and recruits about 1,000 new employees.