PARIS Feb 12 French President Nicolas
Sarkozy has decided to extend the life of the country's nuclear
power plants beyond 40 years so the economy can continue to
benefit from cheap energy, Industry Minister Eric Besson said on
The decision comes after the French Court of Audit said late
last month that extending the plants' lifespans was the
country's sole option because any investments in new nuclear
capacity or increased reliance on other forms of energy would be
too costly and come too late.
Sarkozy's decision also coincides with a separate report
ordered by Besson on long-term energy plans for Europe's
second-largest economy, the definitive version of which is due
"The conclusion that I draw from this is that it would be a
waste to stop our reactors at 40 years," Besson said in an
interview with radio station Europe 1.
Sarkozy made the decision after holding a meeting of
France's Nuclear Policy Committee on Wednesday, Besson said.
By the end of 2022, 22 out of the 58 reactors in France, the
world's most nuclear-reliant country, will have been in
operation for 40 years.
"The president decided to ask all the operators to be ready
to extend the life of our reactors beyond 40 years," he said,
adding that in the United States the standard lifespan was 60
At the same time, Sarkozy, who is expected to formally
announce his candidacy for a second presidential term later this
week, favors the development of a range of nuclear plants from
the 1,600 megawatt next-generation EPR reactor being built by
state-controlled Areva to mid-power plants producing 1,000
megawatts and smaller 300 megawatt reactors.
A leaked version of the study, to be released on Monday,
said that extending the life of France's reactors would be a
cheaper investment option to 2035-2040 than building any type of
new power plant.
(Reporting by Yves Clarisse; Writing by Christian Plumb;
Editing by Erica Billingham)