France expects to begin building its first new-generation EPR2 nuclear reactor before May 2027, with the plant going online during 2035 or 2036, an energy ministry official said on Tuesday.
President Emmanuel Macron has put nuclear power at the heart of his country's drive for carbon neutrality by 2050, with plans to build at least six new reactors, and his government wants to accelerate the bureaucratic processes involved.
France's nuclear fleet has come under scrutiny, with a wave of repairs at power stations forcing a record number of reactors offline and sending nuclear power production to a 30-year low, exacerbating Europe's energy crisis.
"The goal is for the procedural part and authorisations to last less than five years and for construction work on the first EPR2 (rector) to start before the end of the presidential term, before May 2027," the ministry official told reporters.
"The latest timetable ... sees commercial operations starting from 2035-36," the official added.
The government estimates the six new reactors will cost 51.7 billion euros.
EDF plans to construct the reactors on three existing sites: two at Penly, in the Seine-Maritime administrative department, two at Gravelines, in northern France, and two in either Bugey, eastern France, or Tricastin, in southern France.
EDF, which is undergoing a governance overhaul and fully nationalisation, issued a fifth profit warning of the year last month and is now expecting lower production to shave 29 billion euros ($29 billion) off its core earnings in 2022. (Reporting by Benjamin Mallet and Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Richard Lough)