The main announcement by the Head of State must relate to the construction of a series of new second-generation EPR nuclear reactors.

From a source close to the executive, the order to EDF could go up to six EPR2 reactors with an option for eight additional reactors, or 14 in total.

France is currently building only one new nuclear reactor, the EPR in Flamanville (Manche), the construction of which began in 2007 has still not been completed and for which EDF has announced new delays and additional costs.

Accompanied by several ministers, the president and quasi-candidate will make his announcements on the manufacturing site of the Arabelle turbines equipping French nuclear power plants, sold in 2015 to the American General Electric when he was Minister of the Economy.

This choice to sell Alstom's energy branch to GE has been regularly criticized.

Since then, Emmanuel Macron has made a gradual shift, until he assumed his pro-nuclear choice, he who in 2017 insisted above all on his commitment to reduce nuclear power to 50% of electricity production.

Under pressure from the executive, EDF has been negotiating for months to buy the nuclear activities of the American conglomerate, including the Arabelle turbines.

But nothing has filtered since a board meeting of the EDF group on Monday, except that a negotiation protocol could finally be announced, rather than a more successful agreement, even if several ministers have already anticipated the "good news ".

On November 9, Emmanuel Macron announced that France would "for the first time in decades relaunch the construction of nuclear reactors" and "continue to develop renewable energies".

The project aims to "guarantee the energy independence of France" and "achieve our objectives, in particular carbon neutrality in 2050", argued the Head of State.

EDF has already submitted to the State a proposal to build six EPR2 reactors for around fifty billion euros.

Wind turbines

The group proposes to build them in pairs on three sites: first in Penly (Seine-Maritime), near Dieppe, then in Gravelines (North) and finally in Bugey (Ain) or Tricastin (Drôme).

"The State will contribute and play its role" in the financing, promises the Elysée.

"Several external audits have been carried out by the government to attest to the solidity of the costing by EDF and these elements will be made public in the days following the president's speech", further specifies the presidency.

In Belfort, Emmanuel Macron should also talk about the program of small nuclear reactors (SMR).

Nuclear power, "it's ecological, it allows us to produce carbon-free electricity, it contributes to our energy independence and it produces electricity that is very competitive", summarizes the Elysée.

But beyond that, it is a global energy strategy that the Head of State must present, anxious to show that he continues to attach importance to renewable energies, for him complementary to nuclear power.

"Building a new nuclear reactor is not for 15 years, so we need renewable energies right away," said the Elysée.

Emmanuel Macron could thus evoke the development of offshore wind turbines, which are less contested than onshore wind turbines.

Another track, energy savings, with the objective of "reducing our consumption without losing quality of life or purchasing power".

The framework speech that the Head of State is to deliver in Belfort therefore outlines a long-term perspective, but should also allow him to occupy one of the major topics of the campaign from now on.

Nuclear power is one of the themes of the 2022 presidential campaign, with some candidates advocating a more or less rapid exit (ecologists or rebellious) while others (notably on the right and the far right, but also on the Communist Party ) are favorable to this energy.

Yannick Jadot, EELV presidential candidate, denounces an "electoralism" of the president who, according to him, "just before the presidential election, tries to correct the aberration of having sold Alstom to General Electric, under absolutely unacceptable conditions for France".

In unison, the NGO Greenpeace castigates an "electoralist objective" of an "opportunist candidate".


© 2022 AFP