France will build new nuclear reactors to help the country lessen its dependence on foreign countries for its energy supplies, meet global warming targets and keep prices under control, President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday.
Early in his mandate, Macron pledged to reduce nuclear’s contribution to France’s energy mix to 50% from 75% by 2035. But the energy crisis has changed the mood in Paris, just five months before the presidential election.
“We are going, for the first time in decades, to relaunch the construction of nuclear reactors and continue to develop renewable energies,” Macron said in a televised speech.
He said the move was necessary to keep energy prices “reasonable”.
As Europe grapples with steep increases in energy prices, France is taking a different path from neighbours like Germany.
Germany responded to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan by accelerating its national exit scheme for reactors.
Macron gave no details, but his government is expected to announce the construction of up to six new pressurised-water reactors within the coming weeks.
French media in October reported that the impact of Europe’s gas crisis in energy prices, and the knock-on effect on household spending power six months out from France’s next presidential election, had accelerated Paris’s decision to commit to third-generation EPR technology.