EDF and GDF Suez are to build France’s second EPR at Penly. The companies work jointly on the project, with EDF the major partner in the joint-venture company but with the intention that GDF Suez will ultimately take on project management and operation of plant.

Other partners will be invited to participate in the construction of the plant, in the form of balanced partnerships where investors share in the plant’s output. EDF has entered into similar arrangements before, for example with Belgium’s Electrabel at the Chooz and Tricastin plants and more recently with Enel of Italy at Flamanville, now under construction.

Construction at Penly is expected to begin in 2012 with a target of 2017 for grid connection. The site, near Dieppe on France’s northern coast, is home to two 1350MWe PWRs and according to EDF has all the technical characteristics required for the Areva-designed reactor. The world’s first EPR, Finland’s Olkiluoto 3, is due to start up in mid-2012, with the Flamanville unit scheduled for first power later the same year. Construction is due to begin on the first of two EPRs in China this year.

EDF chairman and CEO Pierre Gadonneix described the announcement as “excellent news for the whole of the nuclear industry and for employment in France,” while GDF Suez chairman and CEO Gerard Mestrallet said his company was pleased to have the government’s support for its wish to be recognised as manager and operator of an EPR, although the final decision will rest with the French authorities. “It’s unquestionably an asset for France to have two major players in the nuclear industry, on both homeland and abroad,” he said.

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