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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

France to decide nuclear shutdown numbers next year

Country aims to reduce atomic generation to 50 per cent from 75 per cent

Chimneys of the nuclear power plant at Cattenom in eastern France. Jean-Christophe Verhaegen/AFP
Chimneys of the nuclear power plant at Cattenom in eastern France. Jean-Christophe Verhaegen/AFP

France will detail at the end of 2018 how many nuclear reactors will close to meet a target on reducing atomic energy, the environment minister Nicolas Hulot told French media on Saturday.

France aims to cut the share of atomic energy in power generation to 50 per cent by 2025 from 75 per cent now.

Nuclear plant closures represent a touchy topic, as the sector employs thousands of people and renewable energy alternatives struggle to grow fast enough to ensure energy needs are fulfilled.

According to France's National Council of Industry, the nuclear sector supports about 220,000 jobs, directly and indirectly.

Mr Hulot will lay out his so-called "green deal" on energy transition in the first half of 2018, he told the paper Le Monde.

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"In order to reduce to 50 per cent the share of nuclear power, we will have to close a number of reactors," he said, adding that he would detail the exact figure under a multi-year plan to be presented at end of 2018.

Mr Hulot said in July that as many as 17 of France's 58 reactors may need to close to meet the target, but he did not stick to that forecast in later comments on the subject.

The minister said he would take into account the need to avoid any electricity shortage during that transition, given the country's dependence on nuclear power.

France briefly faced the prospect of power cuts last winter, as power supply had then been hit by the closure of a third of country's ageing nuclear reactors for security checks.