Nuclear plant in France
29 January 2019

Nuclear energy: signature of the industry’s strategic contract

On 28 January 2019, François de Rugy, Ministre d’État, Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, Bruno Le Maire, Minister of Economy and Finance, and Dominique Minière, President of the Strategic Committee for the Nuclear Industry (CSFN), signed the industry’s strategic contract.
The industry comprises 2,600 businesses, more than 50% of which carry out export activities, and today accounts for 220,000 direct and indirect jobs. As such, it is the third industrial sector in France. François de Rugy and Bruno Le Maire welcome the signing of the strategic contract, which will enable the guidelines set out in the Multiannual Energy Programme (PPE) relating to nuclear energy to be translated into practice and will ensure the sector has the visibility it needs to safeguard national know-how and to maintain skills within the industry.
Restrained rise in electricity prices
Thanks to its nuclear power plants, France is one of the European countries where the rise in electricity prices is most restrained and where electricity remains the cheapest:
  • In Belgium, Italy and Spain, electricity costs at least 15% more than in France (more than €200 per megawatt hour);
  • In Germany, electricity is 75% more expensive;
  • In the United Kingdom, prices are expected to be 10% higher this winter.

In accordance with the guidance given to the industrial sectors by the National Council for Industry (CNI), the French nuclear industry has drawn up a concrete plan of action covering a limited number of key, high-stakes projects, and proposes to the State, in the form of an industry contract, a set of reciprocal commitments designed to support their implementation.

The four focus areas of the action plan

Focus 1: Jobs, skills and training

For the industry, the aim is to guarantee the skills and expertise required for a nuclear industry that is attractive, safe and competitive. Maintaining and renewing skills in the industry are elements essential to its continuity, its ability to exploit production facilities under the best conditions (safety in particular), its ability to innovate and also to its future development capacity.

Focus 2: Digital transformation of the nuclear industry

The aim is to structure the supply chain and innovation process within the industry through use of digital technology.

Focus 3: R&D and the ecological transformation of the nuclear industry

Two key challenges lie at the heart of this focus area:
1. Promote a circular economy within the industry, particularly in the fields of the fuel cycle and recycling of very low-level radioactive metals.
2. Define the reactors and tools of the future, with particular emphasis on stepping up the "Usine Nucléaire du Futur” (Nuclear Plant of the Future) initiative launched by EDF, the CEA (French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission) and Framatome, and on developing a SMR (small modular reactor) model based on French technology.

Focus 4: The international arena

It is fundamental that the industry adopts a global strategy in this area, with particular focus on improving its position within the market and in relation to international organisations, and also on establishing a provision portfolio which will meet the needs of the international market over the coming years.

In addition to the areas of action outlined above, and in order to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and mid-caps in implementing the necessary transformations in the years ahead, the nuclear industry has decided to launch Bpifrance’s "Accélérateur de PME" (SME Accelerator) initiative in 2019.

To carry out the actions of the nuclear industry contract in a consistent fashion and to enable the industry to safeguard its know-how for the future, on 14 June 2018 the sector’s main industrialists decided to create the French Nuclear Energy Industry Group (GIFEN). The objective is also to speak with one voice and work together to develop actions intended to represent all industrialists in the sector (including the decommissioning of nuclear plants).