French Environment Minister uncertain about EPR

13 September 2018

France’s new environment minister Francois de Rugy said, in remarks published on 10 September, that EDF needs to show that the new generation European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) worked well and indicated that any decision on whether to build more EPR plants would be based on economics.

In late October, the French government is expected to outline its plan to cut the share of nuclear energy in its electricity production from the current 75% to 50% and has already said it could take until 2035 to achieve this rather than the initial target of 2025. It is unclear whether the plans include the construction of new nuclear reactors following the resignation of environment minister Nicolas Hulot, who was seen as an impediment to nuclear development.

De Rugy, a former Green lawmaker, told Le Monde that, although he felt that nuclear power was not an energy source for the future the important factor is to know the economic data for both nuclear and renewable energies.

Construction of France’s first EPR plant at unit 3 of the Flammanville NPP is significantly behind schedule and over-budget. Commenting on the project, De Rugy said: “EDF should demonstrate that the EPR works, which is not the case yet" EDF also needs to demonstrate the EPR is competitive in terms of costs.

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