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Environment minister says France could scrap nuclear and pursue 100% renewable power strategy

22 October 2019

French Environment Minister Elisabeth Borne said on October 21 that the country had yet to decide whether to build any new nuclear reactors and could yet pursue a long-term strategy of 100% renewable energy.

Flamanville 3 - Image; EDF
Flamanville 3 - Image; EDF

This followed the CEO of state-controlled power utility EDF, Jean-Bernard Lévy, claiming in an interview with Le Monde that the country would go ahead with the construction of new reactors.
Lévy said the Government had sent a letter to EDF asking the company to prepare plans for the construction of six EPR nuclear reactors over the next 15 years.
EDF operates all of France’s 58 nuclear reactors, which account for more than 75% of the country’s electricity consumption.
But Borne said EDF did not determine French energy policy and pointed to France’s previously announced policy of reducing nuclear power to 50% of the electricity mix by 2035 and increasing the contribution of renewables.
“The decision on new reactors has not been made. There are different scenarios with new nuclear reactors in the mix. We are also looking at a scenario where we have 100% renewables,” Borne said.
Borne also said that President Emmanuel Macron has reiterated that there will be no decision on new reactors until the commissioning of EDF’s Flamanville 3 EPR reactor under construction on the Normandy coast in north-western France.
Flamanville 3 has been plagued by delays, technical problems and cost overruns. It is now expected to start operating in 2023, more than a decade behind schedule and having cost four times the original estimate. Other EPRs, including the one being built at Olkiluoto in Finland, are also over budget and behind schedule.

Borne said a decision on commissioning new reactors would only be taken after the Government had received a full explanation on the cost overruns and delays at Flamanville 3.

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