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France may close next two nuclear reactors earlier than expected

23 January 2020

A French government consultation document has shown that France could shut its next two nuclear reactors in 2025-2026, much sooner than the expected 2027-2028 closure date. Reuters reports that the document said if market conditions relating to electricity prices and the evolution of European electricity are met, then the next closures would be brought forward.

Fessenheim nuclear power plant - Image: Wikimedia/Florival fr
Fessenheim nuclear power plant - Image: Wikimedia/Florival fr

A final decision on whether to close the next two reactors would be made in 2023, the document added. The consultation document is a sign that France is ready to push ahead with its plans to close 14 nuclear reactors by 2035 which starts this year with the closure of the country’s two oldest reactors at Fessenheim in February and June this year. The plans will see the closure of two reactors at each of EDF’s Blayais, Bugey, Chinon, Cruas, Dampierre, Gravelines and Tricastin power plants.
EDF operates all of nuclear-dependent France’s 58 nuclear reactors, which account for around 75% of the country’s electricity consumption. 
In October, French Environment Minister Elisabeth Borne said 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. This followed the CEO of 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.
However, 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. 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.

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