ENGIE reaffirms its strategic decision to promote a diversified, balanced and carbon-free energy mix. For the most part consisting of natural gas, nuclear energy and renewable energy sources (mainly hydropower but also a growing proportion of wind energy and biomass) this energy mix promotes a low CO2 emission energy production; nuclear energy plays a key role in this strategy.
Nuclear energy at the heart of ENGIE
A pioneer in nuclear energy in Europe with the development of the first pressurised water reactor built in Belgium, ENGIE is one of the few players in the sector to develop expert skills in both upstream (engineering, purchasing, operation, maintenance) and downstream (waste management, dismantling) activities.
To coordinate the activity of its subsidiaries while guaranteeing safety, the Group has developed a dedicated organizational structure: a Nuclear Development Department and a Nuclear Safety and Radioprotection Department.
As a nuclear operator, ENGIE owns and operates seven reactors in Belgium through Electrabel, owns stakes in the Chooz and Tricastin plants in France (1,208 MW – the equivalent of one nuclear reactor) and has drawing rights in Germany.
Safety: the first priority in ENGIE’s nuclear strategy
The Group’s longstanding decision to develop a diversified and flexible energy mix has proven to be the right one, particularly in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.
ENGIE reaffirms its nuclear strategy based on an optimum high level of safety and efficiency in the power plants currently in operation, as well as long-term support to the contribution of nuclear power in the energy mix, maintaining it at a similar level to the present (5%).
Nuclear safety is the essential guiding thread running through this strategy and is part of our standard commitment, the primary objective being to protect our employees, the general public and the environment. Safety is a key consideration at every stage of our nuclear activities, from design through to construction and operation of our power plants.
ENGIE’s main thrust on nuclear policy is:
- Using existing power stations: the Group continues to operate its seven reactors located in Belgium, where the operational performance rates amongst the best in the world. Operating these plants safely remains the absolute priority.
- Establishing the highest level of safety in the Group’s new reactors by 2020: any future investments shall be subject to very strict criteria in terms of ethics, responsibility and safety.
- Total freedom of action to develop nuclear projects in Europe and the rest of the world, either in cooperation with players in the French public nuclear sector or with other international partners. This freedom of action ensures the flexibility and competitiveness which are essential for the Group’s success in the nuclear industry.
ENGIE, a player in the worldwide nuclear revival
ENGIE supports the developments in the industry, and is committed to evolving a nuclear energy for the future, more transparent and safer than ever.
- In the United Kingdom, the Group has signed a partnership agreement with Toshiba for the development of a new nuclear power plant on the West Cumbria coast in Northwest England. The plant will be built utilizing Westinghouse AP1000 technology and will achieve a capacity of 3,400 MW.
- In Turkey, ENGIE is part of the Japanese tender (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Itochu) for the construction and operation of a nuclear power plant at Sinop, beside the local utility EÜAŞ. The ATEMA1 technology of French-Japanese design (AREVA-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries) has been chosen by the Turkish authorities for this project.
- In Brazil, the Group signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Eletronuclear/Eletrobras in 2009.
- The Group is actively pursuing contacts for current development projects in Saudi Arabia and Poland.
Training and recruitment for the experts of tomorrow
ENGIE currently employs 6,000 people in its nuclear activities. It will need to hire nearly 2,000 additional people in the next 5 years to cover the development of the Group’s projects.
Recruitment and training programs have been set up to cope with this new challenge. These include the Nuclear Trainees Program which combines theoretical learning and field experience under the supervision of a mentor, allowing junior engineers to become nuclear generalists while creating a solid network within the Group.
At the same time, ENGIE supports initiatives in European universities and engineering schools to renew the appeal of careers in science and to enhance courses dedicated to the nuclear field.
Big investments in Research & Development
ENGIE is focusing its nuclear R&D on:
- improving the performance and safety of its reactors,
- waste management,
- streamlining technologies,
- third and fourth generation reactors,
- dismantling facilities,
- nuclear fusion etc.
To this effect, the Group is involved in numerous joint research programs, with the CEA, the SCK-CEN and the European Commission with the Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform (SNETP).
Complete transparency in nuclear energy
Nuclear power is an energy source of the future, yet unfortunately often wrongly judged. Some education is needed for everyone to understand it. ENGIE is committed to explaining its vision of this form of energy in a completely transparent manner. Any decision relating to the construction of a nuclear power station involves the public and is the subject of balanced dialogue, enabling everyone to form their own opinion.
The Group also participates in think-tanks and informational campaigns on nuclear energy, such as:
- the European Nuclear Energy Forum, as part of an initiative by the European Commission
- the Belgian Nuclear Forum (in French)