EDF eyes development of new, smaller reactors - papers

PARIS, March 21 Thu Mar 21, 2013 3:11am EDT

PARIS, March 21 (Reuters) - State-controlled French utility EDF is considering developing a new range of nuclear reactors that would be smaller and less powerful than its troubled next-generation EPR reactors, newspapers reported on Thursday.

Any such project would come only after a three-year study and design period, Les Echos and Le Figaro newspapers both quoted EDF production and engineering head Herve Machenaud as saying.

Machenaud said that the development of a wider range of next-generation reactors would help to reverse a situation in which the world's biggest builder of reactors "has paradoxically lost in the nuclear area our dominant position in terms of design and construction".

The proposed new reactors would both have lower output than the 1,600 megawatt EPR; one offering 1,500 MW and the other 1,000, Machenaud said.

There would follow a period of reflection on the best way to proceed to improve on the EPR - developed by EDF together with state-owned reactor builder Areva - to lower its price and integrate post-Fukushima safety measures, he said.

Two pilot EPR projects in Finland and France have been plagued by delays and cost overruns.

(Reporting By Christian Plumb; Editing by David Goodman)