New French nuclear to include oil and gas interest

30 January 2009

France will start work on a second new reactor in 2012 at Penly. The new nuclear unit will be partly owned by gas giant GdF-Suez.


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President Nicolas Sarkozy made the announcement today, confirming that Electricité de France (EdF) would control the project and take its majority. Other investors would also be invited to express their interest. The French government owns 85% of EdF, 35% of GdF-Suez and 88% of Areva, who will build the unit.

EdF said it would involve "industrial concerns" in the form of "balanced partnerships" as it has previously done with Belgium's Electrabel regarding the Chooz and Tricastin power stations and Italy's Enel at Flamanville. Some 12.5% of the power output from Flamanville 3 will be taken by Enel, while the Italian firm has options to take the same from the next five reactors EdF builds.


Another oil firm, Total, would be a potential investor. It regularly invests as a partner with other energy firms and sees nuclear power as a future area for collaboration.


The Penly site, only ten kilometres from Dieppe on France's northern coast, already features two 1350 MWe pressurized water reactors, and was once planned to have two more. EdF said that the site has "all the technical characteristics required."


The reactor will be an EPR unit by Areva - the same as currently under construction at Flamanville and planned to compliment and partly replace France's existing 58-reactor fleet. EdF said it "will inform its governing authorities of the project and will, of course, make every effort to respect all the consultation procedures before construction begins in 2012." Operation is planned for 2017, according to the Presidential announcement.


The reactor will probably be the fifth EPR to start construction. Work on Olkiluoto 3 in Finland began in 2004 with Flamanville 3 in France following at the end of 2007. Construction of Taishan 1 and 2 in China should begin this year.


Four further EPRs are planned for the UK and three are in the regulatory process in the USA. The first of these could also begin construction in 2012 for operation around 2017 if regulatory processes go smoothly.