France's EDF designs reactor to challenge Areva: report

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

PARIS - French electricity generator EDF is working on two new nuclear reactor designs of its own which could rival those made by Areva, the world's biggest atomic energy company, the Expansion magazine said.

In a report to appear Wednesday, Expansion said EDF is "looking at its own series of reactors," power rated at 1,000 and 1,500 Megawatts, which if finalised could be competition for Areva's third generation European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) and its Atmea design.

Developed with Germany, the EPR has a power rating of 1,650 Megawatts but the design has been dogged by problems. In July EDF announced there would be a two-year delay and cost increases for a plant being built by Areva at Flamanville, northern France.

An EPR under construction in Finland by Areva has also been hit by delays and cost over-runs.

"We are not dropping the EPR but we do not want to put all our eggs in one basket," Expansion quoted a source close to EDF head Henri Proglio as saying.

At the same time, "it is true seen from the outside that it could be interpreted differently -- we and Areva are unable to combine our engineering resources," the source added.

EDF declined to comment when asked about the report.

Relations between EDF and Areva have grown strained and on Monday, La Tribune daily reported that the government wanted EDF to increase its stake in Areva from 2.4 percent to 10-15 percent.

The French government wants to consolidate the French nuclear power industry, a key factor in the national economy, and the newspaper said that these efforts were being given new impetus.

The French state owns 85 percent of EDF which provides most of the electricity used in France generated from one of the world's largest nuclear power networks.

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