Two days after the presentation by the French government of measures to facilitate the construction of new nuclear reactors, EDF reached an agreement with General Electric on Friday. This provides for the resumption of part of its nuclear activities.
The two groups have signed “a definitive agreement for the acquisition by EDF of the activities of GE Steam Power relating to the conventional island” of future nuclear power plants, French in particular, whose turbines constitute the main element, announced EDF in a statement. “These activities include the supply of equipment for new nuclear power plants, including Arabelle turbines, as well as the maintenance and upgrades of equipment for existing nuclear power plants outside America,” EDF said.
“The steam turbines of GE Steam Power can notably equip reactors with EPR and EPR2 (European Pressurized Reactor) technology as well as SMR (Small Modular Reactor)”, detailed the energy specialist. This transaction will allow EDF “to master the technologies and skills relating to the conventional island of nuclear power plants, essential for the sustainability of the existing nuclear fleet and future projects”, argues the group.
An acquisition “in the second half of 2023”
While the need for electricity will grow to allow the country to extract itself from fossil fuels, the executive supports the construction of six reactors ERP generation, with an option for eight more, alongside the rise of renewable energy, solar and marine wind first. Completion of the acquisition is “envisaged in the second half of 2023”, after lifting the usual conditions precedent and obtaining the required regulatory authorizations.
The announcement of this agreement comes two days after the presentation in Council of Ministers of a bill to speed up the construction of new nuclear reactors. In February, the two groups had synchronized the announcement of a prior “exclusivity agreement” with the presentation in Belfort by President Emmanuel Macron of France’s energy strategy, where the gigantic Arabelle turbines are manufactured. These turbines equip French power stations, using water vapor from nuclear reactors to turn the alternators that produce electricity.
EDF in full renationalization
The announcement also comes as EDF is in the process of renationalisation, a 9.7 billion euro operation, launched on October 4 by the State to relaunch a vast nuclear program after a dark year for the group. The energy company is facing a drop in its electricity production, at a historically low level due to the unavailability of nearly half of the 56 reactors in the nuclear fleet, shut down for scheduled maintenance or suspected corrosion problems. or proven.
The group revised Thursday evening once again downwards its estimate of nuclear production for the year 2022, due in particular to a longer shutdown than expected of four reactors.
Jobs threatened in Belfort?
Taking note of the agreement, the federations CGT energy and metallurgy, demanded on Friday “clarification of the industrial project that the EDF group wishes to carry out with GE Steam within it”. They intend to address “these essential strategic questions as soon as the future CEO, Luc Rémont, takes office, familiar with the history of the file, whose appointment is being finalized”.
During the controversial 2014 sale of Alstom’s energy branch to GE, the latter advised Alstom as a banker at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. According to Christian Mougenot, delegate CFDT GE Steam Power at Belfort300 jobs are threatened in Europe as part of this acquisition.