The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

France’s struggle to deliver a second nuclear era

An ambitious reactornconstruction programme aimed at reducing carbon emissions is running into the realities of skilled worker shortages.

For 10 years, Gaetan Geoffray
worked as a plasterer and painter, before learning metalwork at a company
that made cranes. Arnaud Dupuy was a policeman. A third colleague at their
factory in the depths of rural Burgundy used to be a baker.

The factory is owned by Framatome, a subsidiary of state-controlled power utility EDF, and the trio are hoping to qualify for one of the most sought-after jobs in
France, as nuclear-grade welders. If all goes well, they’ll one day be
allowed to work on the most intricate features of the steel parts assembled
in the plant, where the all-important 24-metre-long casings protecting the
core of atomic reactors are made.

For now, that goal is at least three to
four years off, so exacting are the demands in a field in which imperfect
finishes can delay a project by months and cost millions, if not billions,
of dollars. For France, the next intake of hires and welding apprentices
can’t come a day too soon.

After years of political dithering over whether
or not to cut its reliance on nuclear power, a hesitation echoed globally
after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan, the country has gone
all-in with Europe’s most ambitious atomic construction project in decades.
In order to stand a chance of turning this vision into reality, the
government estimates it needs to find another 100,000 nuclear specialists
of all guises, from engineers and project supervisors to boilermakers and
electricians, over the coming six years.

Looming large, beyond hurdles with
design approvals and financing for the €52bn programme, is an even more
basic question — whether France, Europe’s main atomic nation, still has
the industrial capacity and people to make the projects happen on a scale
it has not contemplated since the 1970s.

FT 23rd April 2023


April 26, 2023 - Posted by | employment, France

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: