France approves study on extending nuclear reactors' life

French President Macron meets Dutch PM Rutte in The Hague
French President Emmanuel Macron reacts, at a joint news conference held with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, in The Hague, Netherlands January 30, 2023. REUTERS/Yves Herman

PARIS, Feb 3 (Reuters) - France has approved looking into the possibility of extending the lifespan of nuclear reactors to 60 years and beyond if safety rules allow it, the French Presidency said.

The Presidency announced the move in a statement after President Emmanuel Macron, who has announced plans to build at least six new reactors by 2050, on Friday chaired the first of a series of meetings on nuclear policy.

France historically has relied on nuclear power for around 70% of its energy, although the share is likely to have fallen last year as the nuclear fleet suffered repeated outages.

A public debate about the six new EPR2 nuclear reactors is set for the end of February.

The commissioning schedule for the new reactors will be established by a bill that will determine the speed of the procedures near the existing nuclear sites and the operation of the existing facilities, the statement said.

The bill is expected to reduce delays in administrative procedure and allow for progress on the construction sites.

The statement also announced plans for the construction of the first pilot of a small advanced nuclear reactor by the 2030s.

The extension of the plants will also require the launch of an examination of the issue of the fuel cycle, including the waste management, the statement said.

Several studies are set to be launched on the matter and presented at the next meeting of the nuclear council in June 2023, the statement said. The presentation of the studies is expected to be followed with a debate in Parliament on the development of energy and climate laws.

Reporting by Michel Rose, Dominique Vidalon, and Forrest Crellin; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta, William Maclean

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.