French President Emmanuel Macron announced that France will build up to 14 new reactors with a vast program as part of a “renaissance” for its nuclear industry.
Macron said the new reactors would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions that causes global warming and make France carbon neutral by 2050.
“What our country needs — and the conditions are there — is the rebirth of France’s nuclear industry,” Macron said in a speech in the eastern industrial town of Belfort.
Macron described the decision to build new nuclear power plants a “choice of progress, a choice of confidence in science and technology.”
Nuclear energy provides 70% of French electricity, which is a higher proportion than in other countries.
Macron said the reactors would be built and operated by its state-controlled energy provider EDF with tens of billions of euros in public financing to pay for the projects.
The announcement comes as EDF faces delays and budget overruns on new nuclear plants in France and Britain.
The announcement also comes amid concerns on corrosion problems in some of its ageing reactors, as well as spikes in energy prices and France’s dependence on gas and oil producers.
Macron said he also wanted to extend the lifespan of all existing nuclear plants to 50 years or more as long as it was safe to do so.
The announcement marks a policy shift from the beginning of Macron’s presidency when he made a pledge to close over a dozen of EDF’s 56 reactors by 2035.
France lobbied hard and successfully to get the European Commission to label nuclear energy as sustainable in a landmark review this month.
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