Nuclear energy: An asset for France’s energy independence

Nuclear energy gives France an energy independence of over 50%, one of the highest independence rates in the European Union. A significant asset in the context of geopolitical and health crises that have an impact on the security and cost of countries' energy supplies.

A strategic energy source

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The nuclear sector has been contributing to France’s energy independence for more than 40 years. 

Nuclear energy: a French asset

  • Energy produced in France
  • A sensitive sector that should remain under French control
  • A sector that creates jobs in France
  • The 3rd largest French industrial sector after the aeronautics and automotive sectors
  • French expertise that is exported abroad
  • A sector that contributes to regional economic development
  • A sector that contributes 6 billion euros per year to France’s trade balance.

Security of supply

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After the health crisis, unprecedented in magnitude, and the conflict in Ukraine, the nuclear sector has demonstrated its capacity to ensure the security of electricity supply.

Nuclear energy thus contributes to securely delivering electricity to hospitals, housing, companies, and transportation around the world.

A specifically French sector of excellence

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In the absence of sufficient domestic resources of fossil energies for electricity production, following the oil price shocks in the 1970s, France decided to develop nuclear energy domestically to ensure not only its security of supply but also its national energy sovereignty.

As a result, France has developed a complete national nuclear industry, mastering the design and construction of its own facilities for power generation, uranium enrichment and fuel fabrication, as well as treatment, recycling and waste management. 

The French nuclear industry is…

  • Almost €50 billion in revenue
  • 220,000 qualified, non-relocatable jobs
  • Over 3,000 companies with 85% of VSE-SMEs
  • 6.7% of French industrial employment 
  • 400,000 direct and indirect jobs in France
  • Around 7,000 new hires every year

A reliable and manageable energy    

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Nuclear energy provides a continuous source of electricity that can be adapted to variations in demand.

In the BVA study for Orano, French people underline the fact that nuclear energy produces electricity uninterruptedly, demonstrating the impoprtance they attach to 24/7 security of supply.

A competitive energy

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Nuclear energy is one of the least expensive sources of electricity to produce, making French electricity prices among the lowest in Europe.
+80%: how much more a German household pays for its electricity bill compared to a French household.

Uranium and energy independence

Uranium ore is no longer mined in France. The last mine stopped its production in 2001, as the deposits were no longer economically exploitable, even though uranium is still found in France. The Orano group, the 3rd largest uranium mining company globally, holds on an ongoing basis over 20 years of uranium resources and reserves thanks to its mining activities in Kazakhstan, Canada and Niger. Mining projects are also under development in Uzbekistan and Mongolia. By mining these deposits with partners, generally mining actors in these countries, the Orano group diversifies and ensures the security of its uranium production.

There are also stocks of uranium held in France. The current stock of natural uranium corresponds to 2 years of nuclear electricity production, based on 58 reactors operating in France. Added to this is the stock of depleted uranium owned by Orano. This stock represents more than 320,000 metric tons of depleted uranium, or around 60,000 metric tons of enriched uranium, equivalent to 7 to 8 years' supply for the operation of the French fleet. By way of comparison, in the case of gas or oil, there are only a few months of stocks held at any given time.

For all the rest of Orano’s fuel cycle activities, the plants and skills are located in France. At Tricastin, Orano has some of the most modern uranium conversion and enrichment plants in the world. This strategic site contributes to French and Western energy sovereignty. An industrial project currently aims to increase enrichment capacity by 30% to additionally contribute to Western security of supply and reduce the dependence of certain countries on Russia. 

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