EDF did not return a copy on the feasibility of building 14 new EPDs

Is EDF able to build 14 EPDs in France by 2050, as presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron would like? The electrician himself isn’t sure yet. On the sidelines of a press conference held on Wednesday, April 13, Jean-Bernard Lévy, the CEO of the Tricolor Group, explained that he had not yet given his copy to the Head of State on the feasibility of building eight additional reactors, in addition to the six EPRs it has already committed to.

on February 10, Emmanuel Macron has unveiled a massive nuclear program. He announced from Belfort the construction of six EPR2s now and possibly eight new optional units in the coming years, or 14 in total. This number is no coincidence. It corresponds to the most ambitious nuclear scenario for 2050 studied by RTE, the operator of the electricity transmission grid.

Which sites? What construction pace?

But if EDF has already examined the feasibility of building the first six reactors and identified their possible locations (in Penly, in Seine-Maritime, in Gravelines, in the north, and in Bugey in Ain or in Tricastin, in Drôme) , this is not yet the case for the other eight.

The electrician must therefore analyze in which locations these eight additional reactors can be installed, but also the possible rhythms for the design offices, civil engineering, equipment and assembly, ie the four main sequences of a nuclear construction site.

“This is work that we launched at the request of the president, who told us, what if it was 14? We have a copy to send back, but it’s not ready”said Jean-Bernard Levy.

Delivery of the copy expected in the third quarter

In detail, the CEO of EDF explained that it would be necessary “more technical support”more people “who make concrete”“more factories making tanks, pumps and thousands of devices”if “command boxes”but also “no more technicians who come to solder, assemble, wire and test everything”† And this, even if these eight EPR-type reactors aren’t “only launched in 2028, 2030 or 2032”.

The electrician explains that in his research he must also take into account the hypothesis of new EPDs being built abroad, especially in the United Kingdom, in Poland or even in India, where he hopes to land major contracts.

Jean-Bernard Lévy specified that it was a work that had begun “just a few weeks ago”† EDF would therefore in “the upcoming months”probably in the third quarter of the year.

Unrest between EDF and the executive

Making these comments to the press just days before the second round of the presidential election can be surprising. They also intervene after a stormy period between the electrician and the government. Given rising energy prices, the government has asked EDF to increase the volume of nuclear energy sold to its competitors at reduced prices by 20% this year from 100 to 120 terrawatt hours (TWh). This should cost the group around 8 billion euros. A measure that led EDF employees to a massive strike last January, with a participation rate of more than 40%. Rarely had Jean-Bernard Lévy himself sharply criticized the government’s decision in an internal message to EDF executives, citing a “real shock”

This is not the only difference between the electrician’s CEO and the executive. For example, in 2020 Jean-Bernard Lévy expressed his skepticism about the usefulness for his public group of buy Arabelle turbines from GE Steam Power† Operation strongly pushed by the government. †I can get supplies from China in turbines”, he slipped. Several months later, Jean-Bernard Lévy finally responded by signing an exclusive agreement to acquire part of GE Steam Power’s nuclear activities last February.

Despite these disagreements, the EDF boss is benefiting from the support of the state. And according to our information, he should go until the end of his mandate (scheduled for May 2023), if Emmanuel Macron is re-elected President of the Republic on April 24. As a reminder, Jean-Bernard Lévy is the only president of the group to receive a second term from the state.