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French President Macron now goes for small nuclear reactors – with vision of an exporting bonanza

France unveils nuclear power overhaul – with an eye on China,   French President Emmanuel Macron announced a shift to small modular nuclear reactors on Tuesday as he unveiled his €30 billion, five-year strategy to bolster France’s high-tech sectors, building on the country’s history as a pioneer of nuclear energy. France 24,
17 Oct 21,
Macron announced that the “number one priority” for his industrial strategy was for France to develop “innovative small-scale nuclear reactors” by 2030.

This marks a sea change in France’s approach to nuclear energy……………“The small modular reactors each generate less than 300 megawatts (MW) of energy; far less than most reactors currently in service, which tend to produce between 950 and 1300 MW, with some of them including the Flamanville plant [on the English Channel] capable of as much as 1600 MW,” said Giorgio Locatelli, an expert on the engineering of nuclear power stations at Milan Polytechnic. 

……… In the grand sweep of the history of French nuclear power, the shift towards smaller reactors looks like a step back, Locatelli suggested, because France “started with small reactors in the 1960s before switching to larger ones to develop economies of scale”.However, this trend has now reached its limited, he continued. “Reactors like the one at Flamanville are not only very expensive, but also it’s a long and complex process to build them.” It takes billions to create such plants, and often it is difficult for governments to find investors willing to wait up to a decade before their returns start coming in. 

Competition with China

Most countries lack the means to pull of these massive reactors, noted Nicolas Mazzucchi, an energy specialist at France’s Foundation for Strategic Research: “The financing models they require – not to mention the capacity to really mobilise a country’s savoir-faire in this domain – are increasingly rare, except in nations like Russia and China where energy companies have total state backing.”

Consequently, switching to small modular reactors is a strategic pivot to allow France to deal with competition from countries like China, which has increasingly big ambitions when it comes to nuclear power.

France’s change of approach could also allow it to win lucrative new markets. “By 2025, nearly a quarter of the world’s existing nuclear capacity will be exhausted because the reactors will have become too old,” Mazzucchi continued……………..

‘Lack of experience’………. The people in charge of reactors using cutting-edge technology “will have to justify their safety”, Herviou said. So far, the theoretical advantages of small modular reactors have not been confirmed in practice. Some 70 such reactors are currently in development throughout the world – and the vast majority of these projects are still in the early stages. “The main concern with this technology is the lack of a track record,” said Locatelli. What is more, he continued, nuclear power’s “chicken-and-egg problem is still there: Is it better to start building reactors first to win over buyers or is it best to find the investors first?”  ………….

October 18, 2021 - Posted by | France, marketing, politics

1 Comment »

  1. […] French President Macron now goes for small nuclear reactors – with vision of an exporting bonanza […]

    Pingback by French President Macron now goes for small nuclear reactors – with vision of an exporting bonanza – SHOPPEX NIGERIA | October 18, 2021 | Reply

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