Unlike its neighbors Germany, Italy and Switzerland, France is increasing investment in nuclear power. President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced 1 billion euro nuclear spending program. “There is no alternative to nuclear energy today,” he said.
“We are going to devote a billion euros to the nuclear program of the future, particularly fourth-generation technology,” Mr Sarkozy told a news conference. “We are also going to release substantial resources from the big loan to strengthen research in the sphere of nuclear safety.” Fourth-generation technology is largely still on the drawing board, and the first, a version of the Very High Temperature Reactor (VHTR) called the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP), may be ready in 2021.
France currently has 58 nuclear reactors which supply 74% of its electricity. It is the largest exporter of nuclear generated power in the world. With its neighbors putting their reactors into cold shut down, this power exporting is likely to increase.
Of course, Mr. Sarkozy is a politician and knows that keeping everyone as happy as possible is the key to re-election. As a result, he also announced a further $1.85-billion investment in solar, wind and other renewable sources of power. There may not be an alternative to nuclear energy today, but he’s hedging his bets on tomorrow.