EDF to Acquire GE’s Turbine Unit ahead of Future French Reactor Announcements

Electricite de France (EDF) will acquire General Electric’s France-based turbine unit, announced the French Minister of the Ecological Transition Barbara Pompili. GE Power is a long-standing partner of the EDF Group. The company is the main supplier of conventional-island components for many French power plants like Flamanville-3 as well as Hinkley Point C in the UK.

The transaction will be signed on February 10 in the presence of Emmanuel Macron, who on this occasion should specify his ambitions for the renewal of the French nuclear fleet, with the launch of the construction of six to eight EPRs on the territory. On February 7, the EDF Board of Directors validated the takeover of GE’s nuclear activities in Belfort.

The U.S. conglomerate’s nuclear activities are grouped under the GE Steam Power unit and located principally in Belfort, eastern France. The turbines were sold to GE back in 2014. The U.S. firm acquired Alstom’s power and grid business in 2015 and builds Arabelle steam turbines used in nuclear plants at a former Alstom plant in eastern France.

Alstom’s turbine manufacturing activities were bought by the American giant, a sale organized by Emmanuel Macron as Secretary General of the Élysée Palace and then as Minister of the Economy. It is today, as President of the Republic, that he has worked in favour of this takeover.

The signing of this takeover should be made during a trip by Emmanuel Macron to Belfort. He should make new announcements on nuclear strategy in France. The President could formalize the launch of a program to build six to eight EPRs. Emmanuel Macron would thus confirm the attention announced on November 9, 2021: “We will, for the first time in decades, relaunch the construction of nuclear reactors in our country, and continue to develop renewable energies”.

This decision is important and urgent. In act 1 of its white paper, Société Française d’Energie Nucléaire (Sfen) calls for “Deciding without delay the launch of a program of three pairs of EPR2 reactors for the commissioning of the first unit around 2035. This decision will have to be subject to public debate and be translated into law”.

In addition, Sfen, in parallel with the launch of a nuclear construction program, calls for the revision of the reactor closures provided for in the multi-annual energy program (PPE). This will allow France to maintain margins to guarantee its security of supply and facilitate the achievement of national and European carbon neutrality objectives in 2050.

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