France has called upon state-owned nuclear firms Areva and EDF to concentrate on developing the mid-sized 1100 MW Atmea nuclear reactor to expand its export offerings.
According to the Financial Times, President Nicolas Sarkozy’s nuclear policy council, set up in 2008 to review the French nuclear industry, wants France to forge partnerships with China and to boost the development the new medium-sized reactor to expand France’s nuclear export offerings. These currently hinge on its large new generation European Pressurized Reactors, which have a capacity of 1600 MW.
Paris has instructed the French Atomic Energy Commission, responsible for researching nuclear power technology, to “conduct negotiations with the Chinese authorities for a global partnership between France and China, covering all civilian nuclear activities, including security.”
Areva, the French nuclear power group, is already developing the medium-sized 1100 MW Atmea reactor with its Japanese partner Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The government confirmed it is studying the construction of a new Atmea reactor.
The overhaul also involves the setting up of a nuclear power strategic committee chaired by Éric Besson, the energy minister, with Henri Proglio, the chief executive of electricity behemoth EDF, as his deputy. Their aim is to “strengthen relationships and partnerships between different actors in the nuclear industry”.

In a separate move the government has asked Areva to spin off its uranium mining arm into a separate subsidiary that could eventually be listed on the market.

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