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France set to commission new nuclear plant

France’s state-owned energy company EDF says it has approval to load a new nuclear plant with fuel. France plans to expand its nuclear sector, unlike Germany, which has shut it down

France’s state-owned energy company EDF announced on Wednesday evening that the nuclear supervisory authority had approved final preparatory steps for putting a new reactor into operation.

The plant is now meant to be loaded with nuclear fuel in the coming weeks. 

The reactor, in Flamanville on the English Channel, is scheduled to be connected to the grid in mid-2024 — 12 years later than initially planned — and will be the first to be commissioned by France in more than two decades.

Massively over-budget

Construction of the Flamanville reactor started in 2007.

The facility was originally planned to cost €3.3 billion ($3.6 billion), but it is now expected to eat up more than €12 billion.

Work on the reactor has been plagued by delays, with leaking weld seams in the steel shell the most recent cause.

France, the second largest producer of nuclear power in the world after the US, is considering the construction of 14 or even more new plants amid a nuclear revival prompted partly by concerns about global warming.

It is also planning to extend the operating life of 32 of its 56 existing reactors if safety concerns are met.

France’s plans are in stark contrast to those of neighboring Germany, where nuclear power has been phased out amid a planned transition to renewable sources of energy such as wind.

Source: Dw

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