France considers like-for-like reactor replacement -paper

PARIS Mon Feb 10, 2014 10:35am EST

PARIS Feb 10 (Reuters) - The French government is considering replacing some of state-controlled utility EDF's ageing nuclear reactors with European Pressurised Reactors (EPRs) designed by French group Areva, daily newspaper Le Monde said on Monday.

Such a move would appear to be at odds with French President Francois Hollande's pledge to reduce the share of nuclear energy in electricity generation from 75 percent to 50 percent by 2025 as part of his socialist party's coalition agreement with the green party.

The one EPR under construction, in Flamanville on France's west coast, is years behind schedule and billions of euros over budget and Hollande has blocked plans to build a second in Penly, Normandy. He has also promised to close the Fessenheim nuclear plant, France's oldest, on the German border.

Le Monde said that several of France's 58 ageing nuclear reactors are expected to be closed in coming years because safety upgrades required to extend their life beyond 40 years will be too costly.

Without citing sources, the paper said that the plan would be to build new EPR reactors on the sites of closed reactors, to make use of the existing power transmission infrastructure.

While this would keep nuclear power output at a similar level, the reduction of nuclear energy as a proportion of total power output would come from increased power use and population growth, the paper wrote.

EDF declined to comment, while no one was available to comment at the energy ministry and presidential palace.

(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by David Goodman)