French President Emmanuel Macron announced Tuesday that the country will build new nuclear power plants, for the first time in decades, to ensure its energy independence without contributing to the acceleration of climate change.

In a televised address, focused on the pandemic and economic recovery, Macron advanced that “for the first time in several decades, the construction of nuclear reactors will be relaunched and the development of renewables will be pursued.”

Although he did not give details, Macron already said last month that one of the government’s bets would be on small-sized nuclear reactors of the SMR type, faster and cheaper to build, with an installed power of about 170 MW per unit.

Meanwhile, a conglomerate of state-owned companies has been building since 2007 a new-generation reactor, of the EPR type, with some 1,650 MW of power, at Flamanville (Normandy, northwest), but the project is plagued by technical problems and cost overruns that have caused long delays.

Macron assured today that the start of construction of new reactors will help “guarantee” the country’s energy independence and supply, while making progress towards France’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.


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