Is EDF capable of building 14 EPRs in France by 2050, as presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron would like? The electrician himself is still not sure. On the sidelines of a press conference, which took place this Wednesday, April 13, Jean-Bernard Lévy, executive president of the tricolor group, explained that he has not yet delivered his copy to the Head of State on the feasibility of building eight reactors, in addition of the six EPRs to which it has already committed.
On February 10, Emmanuel Macron unveiled a vast nuclear program. He announced, from Belfort, the construction of six EPR2 now and potentially eight new optional units in the coming years, that is, 14 in total. This number is no accident. It corresponds to the most ambitious nuclear scenario for 2050 studied by RTE, the operator of the electricity transmission network.
What places? What construction rate?
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 this is not yet the case for the other eight.
Therefore, the electrician must analyze in which sites these eight additional reactors could be installed, but also the possible rhythms for the design, civil engineering, equipment and assembly offices, that is, the four great sequences of a nuclear construction site .
“This is a job that we launched at the request of the president, who told us: what if it were the 14th? We have a copy to return, but it’s not ready.”Jean-Bernard Levy said.
Delivery of the copy scheduled for the third quarter
In detail, the CEO of EDF explained that it would be necessary “more engineering supports”more people “they make concrete”, “more factories that make tanks, pumps and thousands of pieces of equipment”What “command control cabinets”but also “no more installers coming to solder, assemble, wire and test everything”. And this, even if these eight EPR-type reactors are not “released only in 2028, 2030 or 2032”.
The electrician explains that he must also take into account, in his study, the hypothesis of new EPR constructions abroad, in particular in the United Kingdom, in Poland or even in India, where he hopes to obtain important contracts.
Jean-Bernard Lévy specified that it was a work that had begun “just a few weeks ago”. EDF should therefore make its copy in “the next few months”probably in the third quarter of the year.
Disturbances between EDF and the executive
Making these statements in front of the press, a few days before the second round of the presidential elections, may be surprising. They also intervene after a stormy period between the electrician and the government. In fact, faced with rising energy prices, the government has asked EDF to increase the volume of nuclear electricity sold at reduced prices to its competitors by 20% this year, from 100 to 120 terawatt 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 turnout of over 40%. Rarely, in an internal message to EDF executives, Jean-Bernard Lévy himself had harshly criticized the government’s decision, citing a “true shock”.
This is not the only difference between the CEO of the electrician and the executive. In 2020, for example, Jean-Bernard Lévy did not hide his skepticism about the usefulness for his public group of buy Arabelle turbines from GE Steam Power. Operation strongly promoted by the government. “In turbines, I can get supplies from China.”, he slipped. A few months later, Jean-Bernard Lévy finally responded by signing an exclusive agreement for the acquisition of part of GE Steam Power’s nuclear activities last February.
Despite these disagreements, the head of EDF benefits from state support. And, according to our information, he should go until the end of his term (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 who obtained a second term from the State.