• Rikki Lambert

Macron ushers in France's 'nuclear power renaissance'

President Macron made the announcement visiting a GE steam engine facility

A lack of confidence in renewable energy's capacity to meet France's 2050 energy needs will see France will build at least six new nuclear reactors in the decades to come, according to President Emmanuel Macron.

France is to build six new nuclear power stations and investigate the possibility of a further eight by 2050, French President Emmanuel Macron has announced in Belfort in the east of the country.

"This is the renaissance of French nuclear power," Macron said. 

The president added that the operating lives of all existing nuclear power stations would be extended, where safety allowed.

No power station would be taken off grid, unless there were compelling grounds for reasons of safety, Macron said. 

EDF, the largely state-owned utility company, had been instructed to investigate whether operating lives could be extended beyond 50 years.

With its 56 nuclear power stations, France is the second-largest generator of nuclear power in the world following the United States.

"France is choosing its independence and freedom," Macron, who views nuclear power as an essential component in the energy transition away from fossil fuels, said.

The demand for electricity would rise by 60 per cent, he predicted, and this could not be covered by renewables. 

The safest and cleanest route was nuclear power, he said, and this would generate jobs and drive the country's industrialisation.

Macron also announced the expansion of renewables, noting that they had now become profitable and competitive, as well as being available more quickly than nuclear power stations. 

The focus would be on solar power but there would also be 50 new offshore wind farms by 2050, he said.

Generation from renewables is planned to double by 2030 and be further expanded by 2050.

Macron made the announcements in Belfort, where the most powerful turbines for nuclear power stations are made.