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French utility EDF has signed green bank loans for a total amount of about EUR5.8 billion (USD6.3 billion), which will be used to finance the life extension of its existing nuclear power plant fleet in France.

The Tricastin plant comprises four 900 MWe PWRs (Image: EDF/Toma/M Hake)

The loans - which have maturities of between 3 and 5 years - have been arranged with major international banks, including BNP Paribas, Bank of America, Crédit Agricole CIB, ING, Natixis CIB, Société Générale and Wells Fargo.

EDF announced its Grand Carénage life extension programme for the existing fleet in France in 2011. Under this investment programme, the company planned to spend around EUR55 billion by 2025 on upgrading its plants to improve their performance and enable their continued operation beyond 40 years. The programme also includes safety upgrades in response to the Fukushima Daiichi accident in Japan.

The investment was optimised and revised to EUR45 billion in 2018, and in 2020 EDF adjusted the programme's cost to EUR49.4 billion.

A green bilateral loan worth EUR1 billion was announced by EDF and Credit Agricole CIB in November 2022.

EDF noted that the investments in the extension of the operation of its reactors "are aligned with the European taxonomy".

In July 2022, the European Parliament voted to include certain nuclear and gas activities within the European Union's list of officially approved "green" investments.

In February 2021, the country's nuclear safety regulator, the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN), set the conditions for the continued operation of EDF's 900 MWe reactors beyond 40 years. The regulator said it considered the measures planned by EDF combined with those prescribed by ASN will ensure the safety of the units for a further 10 years of operation.

In August 2023, unit 1 of the Tricastin nuclear power plant in southern France became the first French power reactor licensed to operate beyond 40 years.

EDF operates three pressurised water reactor designs, known as the 900 MWe, the 1300 MWe and the 1450 MWe N4. Its 32 operating 900 MWe reactors came into commercial operation between 1977 and 1988, and include the oldest of the country's current nuclear fleet. Such reactors are in operation at EDF's Blayais, Bugey, Chinon, Cruas-Meysse, Dampierre, Gravelines, Saint-Laurent and Tricastin nuclear power plants.

ASN said the improvements and measures will be applied to each reactor individually during their fourth periodic safety reviews, scheduled to run until 2031. These reviews will take the particularities of each facility into account, it said. The measures planned by EDF for each reactor will be subject to a public inquiry.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Tuesday, 14 May 2024
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