Macron says France will build new nuclear reactors


French President Emmanuel Macron attends a press conference with Beninese President Patrice Talon after the signing of an agreement on the return of looted cultural objects from the African country, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, November 9, 2021 . REUTERS / Sarah Meyssonnier

PARIS, Nov. 9 (Reuters) – France will build new nuclear reactors to help the country reduce its dependence on foreign countries for its energy supply, meet global warming targets and control prices, said President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday.

With purchasing power concerns topping opinion polls five months before the presidential election, at a time of soaring energy prices, Macron said the decision to go for new reactors was essential to keep prices “reasonable”.

“We will, for the first time in decades, relaunch the construction of nuclear reactors in our country and continue to develop renewable energies,” Macron said in a televised address to the nation.

It was a question of “guaranteeing the energy independence of France, to guarantee the electricity supply of our country and to achieve our objectives, in particular carbon neutrality in 2050”, he declared.

As Europe grapples with sharp increases in energy prices, France is taking a different path from its neighbors like Germany.

Germany responded to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan by accelerating its national reactor exit program.

Macron gave no details, but his government is expected to announce the construction of up to six new pressurized water reactors in the coming weeks.

Previously, the government had said it would not launch any new third-generation EPR reactor projects until EDF’s EPR nuclear power plant (EDF.PA) in Flamanville, in northwestern France, was completed. .

But French media reported in October that the impact of the gas crisis in Europe on energy prices and the ripple effect on household purchasing power had accelerated Paris ‘decision to s’ engage in EPR technology.

Greenpeace criticized Tuesday’s announcement, saying the plan to build new reactors was “out of touch”, pointing to the problems with the Flamanville project, which suffered a decade of delays and huge cost overruns.

At the start of his mandate, Macron pledged to reduce the contribution of nuclear power to the French energy mix to 50% from 75% by 2035.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; written by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Richard Lough

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