EDF begins permitting process for two new reactors at Penly

30 June 2023

EDF announced it is seeking the necessary authorisations to construct two EPR2 reactors at the Penly nuclear power plant site in Normandy, northern France.

The Penly plant currently houses two 1330 MWe class pressurised water reactors (Image: EDF)

The state-owned power company said its board of directors had decided to proceed with the planned construction of the first pair of EPR2 reactors at Penly "in response to the expectations expressed" during a national public debate, which took place between 27 October 2022 and 27 February 2023 under the aegis of the National Commission for Public Debate.

EDF said it is now "engaged in the authorisation procedures required for the launch of the construction of the first pair of EPR2 reactors at Penly, as well as the administrative procedures for its completion and its link-up to the electricity grid".

The company aims to start preparatory work for the new reactors at Penly in mid-2024.

"In concrete terms, EDF has initiated several administrative procedures concerning in particular: the creation authorisation decree (DAC), which will take around three years to review; and the environmental authorisation which should be processed in one year", the French Nuclear Energy Society noted.

It added that once the environmental authorisation has been obtained, EDF can begin preparatory work for the site in the summer of 2024, including the earthworks and the reshaping of part of the cliff, "which represents around three and a half years of work". Once the decree is obtained, around 2027, the company can pour the first concrete for the first reactor building. The construction site will then take about seven years with commissioning in 2035.

Nuclear accounts for almost 75% of France's power production, but former French president Francois Hollande's government announced in 2014 that nuclear capacity would be capped at the current level of 63.2 GWe and be limited to 50% of France's total output by 2025. The French Energy Transition for Green Growth Law, adopted in August 2015, did not call for the shutdown of any currently operating power reactors, but it meant EDF would have to close older reactors in order to bring new ones online. However, under a draft energy and climate bill presented in May 2019, France will now delay its planned reduction in the share of nuclear power in its electricity mix to 50% from the current 2025 target to 2035.

In May 2021, EDF submitted to the State a proposal for the construction of the new EPR2 reactor programme in France. It proposes to build three pairs of EPR2 reactors, in order, at Penly, Gravelines and at either Bugey or Tricastin.

"This programme for three pairs of EPR2 reactors will mobilise 30,000 jobs per year during the construction phase and more than 10,000 during the operating phase," EDF said.

In February 2022, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that the time was right for a nuclear renaissance in France, saying the operation of all existing reactors should be extended without compromising safety and unveiling a proposed programme for six new EPR2 reactors, with an option for a further eight EPR2 reactors to follow.

EDF and Framatome are developing a simplified version of the EPR design, known as EPR2. Its aim is to incorporate design, construction and commissioning experience feedback from the EPR reactor, as well as operating experience from the nuclear reactors currently in service. EDF must ensure the financing and profitability of its proposed EPR2 reactor before starting construction of any plants based on the design in France, the country's state audit office has said.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News