Nuclear: the Senate is preparing to vote on a text aimed at facilitating recovery

The agreement should be found easily. The Senate must vote in first reading, this Tuesday, a bill promoting the construction of new nuclear reactorsfleshed out with controversial provisions, such as the removal of the objective of reducing the nuclear share of the electricity mix to 50% by 2035.

The text provides for the simplification of administrative procedures in order to promote the construction of new reactors. It will be examined by the National Assembly in turn in March, and should make it possible to concretize the revival of an “ambitious and sustainable” nuclear policy initiated by Emmanuel Macron.

Commissioning expected in “2035-2037”

A goal shared by a large part of the senators. In addition to the Republicans and the centrists, the groups RDPI with a majority Renaissance, RDSE with a radical majority and Independents have already announced that they will vote for the text. The majority communist group CRCE will abstain. The Socialists have yet to determine their position, hostile to the political scope given by the senatorial right. For ecologists, “this new nuclear power goes against the grain of history”.

The President of the Republic announced its intention to build six new reactors, with an option for eight more. The bill is limited to new installations located on existing nuclear sites, or near them. This for a limited period – 15 years in the initial text, increased to 27 years by the Senate. Concretely, the sites will be exempted from town planning authorization because the control of conformity will be ensured by the State. The right of expropriation will be relaxed and work on buildings not intended to receive radioactive substances may be started before the public inquiry is closed.

VIDEO. Nuclear: Macron announces the construction of six new generation EPR2s

“Basically, we are not wasting time,” summarized the Minister for Energy Transition, specifying that these provisions will “not add a period of two to three years to the construction of a reactor”. The next two EPRs should be located in Penly (Seine-Maritime), followed by two others in Gravelines (North), according to EDF’s plans. Agnès Pannier-Runacher has put forward the objective of “end of 2027” for “the first pour of concrete” and “2035-2037” for commissioning.

Strong reactions

The senators have widened the scope of this technical text by breaking down the “bolts” of the current energy programming law. In particular, they removed the objective of reducing the nuclear share of electricity production to 50% by 2035, and imposed the revision of the decree which provides for the closure of 12 existing reactors, in addition to the two in Fessenheim. .

These provisions, which may be reviewed in the wake of the parliamentary shuttle, have aroused strong reactions. The organization Greenpeace France judged these amendments “scandalous”, and accused the Senate of “sabotage the democratic debate”. For the organizers of the public debate on future reactors, this amounts to considering the discussion “as without interest”.

France, which derives around 70% of its electricity from nuclear power, decided in 2015 to close 14 of its 58 reactors, before a reversal announced by the President of the Republic in favor of a new nuclear power.

That same day, deputies and senators will meet in a joint committee to try to find a compromise on the first part of the government’s legislative triptych on energy, the renewable energy acceleration bill.

After these two technical texts carried at arm’s length by the Minister of Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, is expected – at best in June – the energy programming bill which must set the trajectories of France in each energy. A calendar contested by parliamentarians, who accuse the government of legislating in disorder.

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