BELFORT: President Emmanuel Macron called Thursday for a "renaissance" for the French nuclear industry, saying he wanted up to 14 new reactors to power the country's transition away from fossil fuels.
"What we have to build today, because it's the right moment, is the renaissance of the French nuclear industry," Macron said at a strategic turbine factory in Belfort, northeast France.
"I want six EPR2s to be built and we will launch studies for the building of eight additional EPR2s," he said, referring to the new-generation reactors being developed by the state-controlled energy giant EDF.
He acknowledged that France had failed to invest in its nuclear industry over the last decade following the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima plant in Japan in 2011.
"Some nations made radical choices to turn their backs on nuclear," Macron said. "France did not make this choice. But we did not invest because we had doubts."
Calling French nuclear regulators "unequalled" in their strictness and professionalism, Macron termed the decision to build new nuclear power plants a "choice of progress, a choice of confidence in science and technology."
He also announced that he would seek to extend the lives of all existing French nuclear plants where it was safe to do so, and would seek massive new investments in renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.
"We don't have any choice but to rely on these two pillars," he said.