(updated on Dec. 2006)[1]



1.1.  General Overview

France is situated in Western Europe and is nearly hexagonal in shape, with an extreme length from north to south of 965 km and a maximum width of 935 km. The total area of metropolitan France, including the island of Corsica in the Mediterranean, is 552 000 km2. In addition to the European or metropolitan territory, the country includes several overseas "départements", territorial "collectivités", and overseas territories. The climate of metropolitan France is temperate, with wide regional contrasts. The average annual temperature is about 12 degrees. Precipitation is evenly distributed, averaging about 760 mm annually.

The total population is about 62,9 million at the end of 2005 and the population density around 114 inhabitants per km2 (Table 1). Population growth rate is around 0.5% per annum.












Population (millions)








Population density








Area (1000 km2)



Urban population in 2002 as percent of total



source: INSEE

In 2005, the population has increased by 0.37 million of people. Average life expectation is 76.7 years old for men and 83.8 years old for women. The French population represents 13.6% of the European one, second behind Germany. The number of birth has increased by 0.9%. France has a dynamic rate of fertility compared to other European countries: it is the second (194 children for 100 women) after Ireland (199 children for 100 women), far from the European average (150 children for 100 women). By 2050, according to a 2005 INSEE study (Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques), the population may reach 70 millions.

1.1.1.  Economic Indicators

GDP growth rates in France in the recent years, was 1,1% in 2003, 2,3% in 2004 and 1,2% in 2005 (in constant prices). Table 2 shows the historical trend of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in current prices.























GDP (millions of current US$)

148 610.3

689 007.8

1 239 256.0

1 327 963.0

2 126 630.0

2 230 721.0


GDP (millions of constant 2000 US$)

604 939.0

841 133.1

1 088 246.0

1 327 963.0

1 430 131.0

1 458 733.0


GDP per capita (current US$)

2 927.0

12 787.8

21 842.9

22 547.8

34 935.5

36 546.7


Source: World Bank World Development Indicators

1.1.2.  Energy Situation

France has deposits of various metals and little fossil fuel resources. Owing to high recovery costs, production of fossil fuels has decreased to a rather low level and is not expected to provide a significant share of the country energy supply in the future. Most hydropower resources are already exploited. Therefore, the French energy policy places high emphasis on improving energy independence through the development of domestic technologies, including nuclear power, alternative energies and renewables, in order to alleviate the country vulnerability to the volatility of fossil fuel international markets and to meet the Kyoto commitments.

The French domestic energy reserves are listed in Table 3. Table 4 provides statistical data on energy and electricity supply and demand between 1973 and 2005. It illustrates the long term trend of substituting nuclear power to imported fossil fuels and the improvement of energy independence. Since 1973, primary energy consumption undergoes a slight but regular increase (+0,3% between 2004 and 2005). Domestic production accounts for some 50% of that consumption. The energy balance improved in the last two decades, mainly due to the raise of electricity exports, that reached 60,3 TWh in 2005. The energy intensity has lowered owing to structural changes in the economy, i.e. reduction in the share of energy intensive industries in total GDP, and to a lesser extent, to efficiency improvements.


Proved reserves at 31/12/2003




Other hydrocarbons liquefied and associated to Natural gas



purified Natural gas



Gross gas






Basic Energy Situation
(Energy values are in Exajoule exept where indicated)
Annual Average
Growth Rate (%)
Total Energy Requirements 1970 1980 1990 2000 2006 1990 to 2000 2000 to 2006
Total 6.21 7.91 9.26 10.72 11.36 1.47 0.97
Solids 1.61 1.45 0.87 0.65 0.57 -2.93 -2.07
Liquids 3.84 4.31 3.30 3.49 3.55 0.57 0.29
Gases 0.38 1.00 1.23 1.66 1.84 3.11 1.72
Hydro 0.21 0.25 0.21 0.26 0.22 2.10 -2.66
Nuclear 0.06 0.63 3.42 4.53 4.91 2.84 1.36
Combustible Renewables & Waste .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
Other Renewables and Waste 0.10 0.27 0.24 0.13 0.26 -5.73 12.24
Final Energy Consumption 1970 1980 1990 2000 2006 1990 to 2000 2000 to 2006
Total 4.46 5.29 2.92 5.86 6.20 7.23 0.94
Solids 0.80 0.44 0.30 0.17 0.18 -5.51 0.61
Liquids 2.74 3.10 1.47 2.67 2.67 6.17 -0.04
Gases 0.50 1.00 1.15 1.61 1.65 3.43 0.37
Electricity 0.42 0.75 .. 1.39 1.55 .. 1.84
Other .. .. .. 0.02 0.17 .. 37.96
Combustible Renewables & Waste .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
Other .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
Net Energy Balance (Export-Import) 1970 1980 1990 2000 2006 1990 to 2000 2000 to 2006
Total 4.663 6.362 5.191 5.726 6.075 0.99 0.99
Solids 0.422 0.866 0.544 0.558 0.599 0.26 1.17
Liquids 4.111 4.555 3.363 3.827 3.872 1.30 0.19
Gases 0.133 0.751 1.197 1.664 1.836 3.35 1.65
Combustible Renewables & Waste .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
Other Renewables and Waste -0.002 0.190 0.086 -0.324 -0.232 ? -5.41
Source:IAEA Energy and Economic Data Bank, 2009.


1.2.  Energy Policy

During the post World War II reconstruction period, France’s economic and social development relied mainly on the deployment of energy intensive industries. The rapidly increasing energy needs were partly met by domestic coal and hydropower resources.  However, French domestic fossil fuel resources being limited and costly, the country had to rely heavily on imports for its energy supply. By 1973, imports were covering more than 75% of national energy consumption, compared to 38% in 1960. After the 70’s oil crisis, the country was in need of better energy independence. At that time, implementation of a large nuclear power program became a major element of France’s energy policy, including also energy saving measures, efficiency improvement and research and development in the field of renewable energies. The share of nuclear power in primary energy supply increased from less than 2% in the late seventies to about one third in the mid nineties and reached 42% in 2005.

The main macro-economic impacts of France’s energy policy are : drastic improvement in the energy trade balance, stabilization of domestic energy prices at a rather low level, increased competitiveness of French companies on international markets and deployment of a nuclear industry sector covering reactor construction and the whole of the fuel cycle. Increased awareness of environmental constraints reflects in the French energy mix, aiming to reduce the negative impacts of energy production on health and environment. In this regard, substitution of nuclear power to fossil fuel for electricity generation resulted in a drastic reduction of atmospheric emissions from the energy sector.

1.3.  The Electricity System

1.3.1.  Decision Making Process

The General Directorate for Energy and Raw Materials (DGEMP), under the Ministry of Industry, is in charge of implementing the French government policy on energy within the framework of the European directives, in particular to ensure that public service obligations are respected. The Minister for Ecology and Sustainable Development and the Minister for Health are to control health and environmental impacts of industrial facilities, including energy production and transformation plants.

The transmission Grid operator RTE (Réseau de Transport de l'Electricité) is in charge of balancing generation and consumption over the grid, operating the power system, and maintaining and developing the public power transmission network. According to the law of 10 February 2000, RTE must establish at least every two years an evaluation of medium-term evolution of consumption, transport capacities, distribution, and exchanges with foreign grids, to help the government to elaborate the PPI (Programmation Pluriannuelle des Investissements) which is a report on medium-term power generation capacity investments planning that the energy Ministry must prepare and release to the Parliament. Last report on PPI was released in June 2006.

The state-owned utility Electricité de France (EDF) that was nationalized in 1946 along with the national coal, oil and gas companies, has become a limited liability company in November 2004 and has increased its capital  by 30% in October 2005 (the law stipulates that the French State will hold at least 70% of the capital and voting rights in EDF SA). A public service contract between the government and EDF, laying down the terms and conditions for the implementation of its public service mission, has also been signed at the same time. The French government appoints EDF’s chairman.

1.3.2.  Structure of the Electricity Sector

The European directives on the liberalization of the electricity market have been fully transposed into the French legislation.

The transmission grid operator RTE (Réseau de Transport d’Electricité) has been individualized inside EDF according to the European rules, and manages the load dispatch system independently. An independent regulatory authority, CRE (Commission de Régulation de l’Electricité), guarantees equal access and competition to all market players. According to this authority, the market is actually competitive. Since July 2004, any company (representing 4,5 millions of sites) can choose to be supplied by a private utility or remain within the regulated tariff. Thus, the market is open at 70% to competition and will be open at 100% by July 2007.

EDF is still the main operator for production and distribution. It owns and operates all nuclear and part of the fossil-fuel fired and hydro-power plants. The main other suppliers are CNR (Compagnie Nationale du Rhône, 13.2 TWh production in 2003) which operates most of the hydro plants along the Rhône river, SNET (Société nationale d’électricité et de thermique, 2 474 MWe installed capacity in France, 9.5TWh produced in 2004) for the coal-fired plants, SHEM (Société Hydroélectrique du Midi, 773 MWe, 2 TWh), a subsidiary of the national railway company SNCF now held at 40% by Electrabel, and private manufacturers operating back-up or combined heat and power production units, as well as operators of small and medium size hydropower plants. About fifty providers actually operate on the French market. As of January 2005, 0,5% of eligible sites had changed of supplier.

Regarding distribution activities, local authorities grant the concession of well-defined areas. There are about 160 distribution companies featuring municipality or joint ownership, with a 5% share of total electricity billing.

1.3.3.  Main Indicators

Table 5 shows the history of electricity production and Table 6 the energy related ratios from EEDB. At present, about 90% of France’s electricity is of nuclear and hydraulic origin, the remaining 10% coming mainly from fossil fuels. Electricity demand grows in line with GDP, though at lower rate.


Electricity Situation Annual Average
Growth Rate (%)
Electricity Generation 1970 1980 1990 2000 2006 1990 to 2000 2000 to 2006
Total 146.79 246.68 420.70 541.11 574.47 2.55 1.00
Nuclear 5.71 57.95 313.65 415.16 450.19 2.84 1.36
Hydro 57.22 69.32 58.32 71.82 61.11 2.10 -2.66
Geothermal .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
Wind .. .. < 0.01 0.08 2.15 54.40 74.18
Other renewables .. 0.50 0.57 0.58 0.54 0.09 -1.07
Thermal 83.86 118.91 48.15 53.47 60.48 1.05 2.07
Installed Capacity 1970 1980 1990 2000 2006 1990 to 2000 2000 to 2006
Total 36.22 62.71 103.34 114.68 116.18 1.05 0.22
Nuclear 1.65 14.39 55.75 63.18 63.26 1.26 0.02
Hydro 15.00 19.28 24.93 25.12 25.11 0.08 > -0.01
Geothermal .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
Wind .. .. 0.02 0.06 1.39 14.28 70.25
Other renewables .. .. 0.01 0.25 0.26 37.75 1.12
Thermal 19.58 29.03 22.64 26.07 26.16 1.42 0.06

Source:IAEA Energy and Economic Data Bank, 2009.



Derived Indicators Annual Average
Growth Rate (%)
  1970 1980 1990 2000 2006 1990 to 2000 2000 to 2006
Energy consumption per capita (GJ/capita) 122.3 146.8 163.3 180.5 .. 1.01 ..
Electricity per capita (KW.h/capita) 2,891.1 4,579.1 7,415.2 9,112.4 .. 2.08 ..
Nuclear/Total electricity (%) 3.9 23.5 74.6 76.7 78.4 0.29 0.35
Annual capacity factor - Total (%) 46.3 44.9 46.5 53.9 56.4 1.49 0.78
Annual capacity factor - Thermal (%) 48.9 46.8 24.3 23.4 26.4 -0.36 2.02
Annual capacity factor - Hydro (%) 43.6 41.0 26.7 32.6 27.8 2.02 -2.65
Annual capacity factor - Nuclear (%) 39.6 46.0 64.2 75.0 81.2 1.56 1.34
Annual capacity factor - Wind (%) .. .. 0.8 15.4 17.7 35.10 2.31
Annual capacity factor - Geothermal (%) .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
Annual capacity factor -Other renewables (%) .. .. 653.0 26.8 23.5 -27.34 -2.16

Source:IAEA Energy and Economic Data Bank, 2009.



2.1.  Historical Development and current nuclear power organizational structure

2.1.1.  Overview

Historically, the development of nuclear power fell into four phases. During the 1960’s, in line with the overall target of industrial independence and domestic technological development, indigenous designs were promoted (mainly natural uranium - gas cooled reactors and fast breeders). However, a PWR unit (Chooz-A) was built jointly with Belgium and a heavy water reactor in Brittany (Brennilis).

International developments in the nuclear industry led in the late sixties to the recognition that the French reactor designs could not compete with light water reactors. In 1969 the decision was made to build LWRs under license, whilst restructuring the domestic industry to improve competitiveness. Subsequently, the French government envisaged a construction program of one or two PWRs a year.

From 1974 to 1981 emphasis was put on adaptation of the Westinghouse design for the development of a French standard. The nuclear programme accelerated the pace with the 1970’s oil crisis. The unit-capacity of French reactors increased from 900 MWe to 1,300 MWe and later to 1,450 MWe. France developed and implemented, in parallel with the nuclear power plant program, a strong domestic fuel cycle industry, built upon the infrastructure originally established by CEA.

In 1981, Framatome terminated its license with Westinghouse and negotiated a new agreement, giving greater autonomy. Framatome developed a wide range of servicing expertise and capabilities in reactor operation and maintenance services. In the same year, France had to adapt its energy policy to a lower than expected economic growth, together with the occurrence of over-capacity in the national electricity supply system. The achievement of the 1450 MWe N4 model was the landmark for a totally autonomous French reactor design.

Then, started a new period. In 2000, Framatome merged with the nuclear activities of Siemens (Germany). It resulted into Framatome Advanced Nuclear Power, which is integrated to the AREVA group. AREVA holds 66% and Siemens 34%. In 2003, the 1600 MW European Pressurised Reactor, designed by Framatome ANP, was ordered by a consortium of Finnish industrial companies. It is the first model of EPR reactors being built.. In 2005, Framatome was renamed AREVA NC.

2.1.2.  Current Organizational Chart(s)

Nuclear Power organizational Chart

• Government authorities:

     DGEMP (General Directorate for Energy and Raw Materials), Ministry of Industry

     DGSNR (General Directorate for Nuclear Safety and Radioprotection), Ministries of Industry, Health and Ecology and Sustainable Development

     DRIRE (Regional Directorates for Industry, Research and Environment)

• Independent nuclear agency: Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN)

• Expert institution: IRSN (Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety Institute)

• Research and development: CEA (Atomic Energy Commission)

• Nuclear power plants operator: EDF (Electricité de France)

• Nuclear plants construction: AREVA NP

• Fuel cycle industry, including engineering and services: AREVA group

• Mining: AREVA NC

• Conversion: Comurhex

• Enrichment: Eurodif

• Fuel fabrication: AREVA NP, (UO), AREVA NC (MOX)

• Reprocessing and packaging: AREVA NC

• Used fuel storage: ANDRA

2.2.  Nuclear Power Plants: Status and Operations

The share of nuclear power in the French electricity supply has reached its technical and economic maximum, amounting to about 63,000 MWe. It consists of fifty-nine units, fifty-eight being pressurized water reactors (thirty four 900 MWe, twenty 1300 MWe, and four 1450's), all constructed by the French manufacturer Framatome, and the 230 MWe fast breeder reactor, Phenix.

The nuclear plants accounts for 441 TWh in 2003 (over 77% of total electricity production), setting France the world's second largest nuclear power producer. Table 7 lists the status of the power plants as of year-end 2001. In 2003 Nuclear power generation represented about 42% of total primary energy supply, and over 83% of the domestic energy production, making EDF by far the number one nuclear operator and the first electricity producer in the world.


Station Type Net Operator Status Reactor Construction Criticality Grid Commercial Shutdown
    Cpacity (MWe)     Supplier Date Date Date Date Date
BELLEVILLE-1 PWR   1310 EDF Operational FRAM 01-May-80 09-Sep-87 14-Oct-87 01-Jun-88  
BELLEVILLE-2 PWR   1310 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Aug-80 25-May-88 06-Jul-88 01-Jan-89  
BLAYAIS-1 PWR   910 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Jan-77 20-May-81 12-Jun-81 01-Dec-81  
BLAYAIS-2 PWR   910 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Jan-77 28-Jun-82 17-Jul-82 01-Feb-83  
BLAYAIS-3 PWR   910 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Apr-78 29-Jul-83 17-Aug-83 14-Nov-83  
BLAYAIS-4 PWR   910 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Apr-78 01-May-83 16-May-83 01-Oct-83  
BUGEY-2 PWR   910 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Nov-72 20-Apr-78 10-May-78 01-Mar-79  
BUGEY-3 PWR   910 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Sep-73 31-Aug-78 21-Sep-78 01-Mar-79  
BUGEY-4 PWR   880 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Jun-74 17-Feb-79 08-Mar-79 01-Jul-79  
BUGEY-5 PWR   880 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Jul-74 15-Jul-79 31-Jul-79 03-Jan-80  
CATTENOM-1 PWR   1300 EDF Operational FRAM 29-Oct-79 24-Oct-86 13-Nov-86 01-Apr-87  
CATTENOM-2 PWR   1300 EDF Operational FRAM 28-Jul-80 07-Aug-87 17-Sep-87 01-Feb-88  
CATTENOM-3 PWR   1300 EDF Operational FRAM 15-Jun-82 16-Feb-90 06-Jul-90 01-Feb-91  
CATTENOM-4 PWR   1300 EDF Operational FRAM 28-Sep-83 04-May-91 27-May-91 01-Jan-92  
CHINON-B-1 PWR   905 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Mar-77 28-Oct-82 30-Nov-82 01-Feb-84  
CHINON-B-2 PWR   905 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Mar-77 23-Sep-83 29-Nov-83 01-Aug-84  
CHINON-B-3 PWR   905 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Oct-80 18-Sep-86 20-Oct-86 04-Mar-87  
CHINON-B-4 PWR   905 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Feb-81 13-Oct-87 14-Nov-87 01-Apr-88  
CHOOZ-B-1 PWR   1500 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Jan-84 25-Jul-96 30-Aug-96 15-May-00  
CHOOZ-B-2 PWR   1500 EDF Operational FRAM 31-Dec-85 10-Mar-97 10-Apr-97 29-Sep-00  
CIVAUX-1 PWR   1495 EDF Operational FRAM 15-Oct-88 29-Nov-97 24-Dec-97 29-Jan-02  
CIVAUX-2 PWR   1495 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Apr-91 27-Nov-99 24-Dec-99 23-Apr-02  
CRUAS-1 PWR   915 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Aug-78 02-Apr-83 29-Apr-83 02-Apr-84  
CRUAS-2 PWR   915 EDF Operational FRAM 15-Nov-78 01-Aug-84 06-Sep-84 01-Apr-85  
CRUAS-3 PWR   915 EDF Operational FRAM 15-Apr-79 09-Apr-84 14-May-84 10-Sep-84  
CRUAS-4 PWR   915 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Oct-79 01-Oct-84 27-Oct-84 11-Feb-85  
DAMPIERRE-1 PWR   890 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Feb-75 15-Mar-80 23-Mar-80 10-Sep-80  
DAMPIERRE-2 PWR   890 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Apr-75 05-Dec-80 10-Dec-80 16-Feb-81  
DAMPIERRE-3 PWR   890 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Sep-75 25-Jan-81 30-Jan-81 27-May-81  
DAMPIERRE-4 PWR   890 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Dec-75 05-Aug-81 18-Aug-81 20-Nov-81  
FESSENHEIM-1 PWR   880 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Sep-71 07-Mar-77 06-Apr-77 01-Jan-78  
FESSENHEIM-2 PWR   880 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Feb-72 27-Jun-77 07-Oct-77 01-Apr-78  
FLAMANVILLE-1 PWR   1330 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Dec-79 29-Sep-85 04-Dec-85 01-Dec-86  
FLAMANVILLE-2 PWR   1330 EDF Operational FRAM 01-May-80 12-Jun-86 18-Jul-86 09-Mar-87  
GOLFECH-1 PWR   1310 EDF Operational FRAM 17-Nov-82 24-Apr-90 07-Jun-90 01-Feb-91  
GOLFECH-2 PWR   1310 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Oct-84 21-May-93 18-Jun-93 04-Mar-94  
GRAVELINES-1 PWR   910 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Feb-75 21-Feb-80 13-Mar-80 25-Nov-80  
GRAVELINES-2 PWR   910 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Mar-75 02-Aug-80 26-Aug-80 01-Dec-80  
GRAVELINES-3 PWR   910 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Dec-75 30-Nov-80 12-Dec-80 01-Jun-81  
GRAVELINES-4 PWR   910 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Apr-76 31-May-81 14-Jun-81 01-Oct-81  
GRAVELINES-5 PWR   910 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Oct-79 05-Aug-84 28-Aug-84 15-Jan-85  
GRAVELINES-6 PWR   910 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Oct-79 21-Jul-85 01-Aug-85 25-Oct-85  
NOGENT-1 PWR   1310 EDF Operational FRAM 26-May-81 12-Sep-87 21-Oct-87 24-Feb-88  
NOGENT-2 PWR   1310 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Jan-82 04-Oct-88 14-Dec-88 01-May-89  
PALUEL-1 PWR   1330 EDF Operational FRAM 15-Aug-77 13-May-84 22-Jun-84 01-Dec-85  
PALUEL-2 PWR   1330 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Jan-78 11-Aug-84 14-Sep-84 01-Dec-85  
PALUEL-3 PWR   1330 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Feb-79 07-Aug-85 30-Sep-85 01-Feb-86  
PALUEL-4 PWR   1330 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Feb-80 29-Mar-86 11-Apr-86 01-Jun-86  
PENLY-1 PWR   1330 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Sep-82 01-Apr-90 04-May-90 01-Dec-90  
PENLY-2 PWR   1330 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Aug-84 10-Jan-92 04-Feb-92 01-Nov-92  
PHENIX FBR   130 CEA/EDF Operational CNCLNEY 01-Nov-68 31-Aug-73 13-Dec-73 01-Feb-74  
ST. ALBAN-1 PWR   1335 EDF Operational FRAM 29-Jan-79 04-Aug-85 30-Aug-85 01-May-86  
ST. ALBAN-2 PWR   1335 EDF Operational FRAM 31-Jul-79 07-Jun-86 03-Jul-86 01-Mar-87  
ST. LAURENT-B-1 PWR   915 EDF Operational FRAM 01-May-76 04-Jan-81 21-Jan-81 01-Aug-83  
ST. LAURENT-B-2 PWR   915 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Jul-76 12-May-81 01-Jun-81 01-Aug-83  
TRICASTIN-1 PWR   915 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Nov-74 21-Feb-80 31-May-80 01-Dec-80  
TRICASTIN-2 PWR   915 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Dec-74 22-Jul-80 07-Aug-80 01-Dec-80  
TRICASTIN-3 PWR   915 EDF Operational FRAM 01-Apr-75 29-Nov-80 10-Feb-81 11-May-81  
TRICASTIN-4 PWR   915 EDF Operational FRAM 01-May-75 31-May-81 12-Jun-81 01-Nov-81  
FLAMANVILLE-3 PWR   1600 EDF Under Construction FRAM 03-Dec-07 31-Dec-11 01-May-12    
BUGEY-1 GCR   540 EDF Permanent Shutdown VARIOUS 01-Dec-65 21-Mar-72 15-Apr-72 01-Jul-72 27-May-94
CHINON-A1 GCR   70 EDF Permanent Shutdown LEVIVIER 01-Feb-57 16-Sep-62 14-Jun-63 01-Feb-64 16-Apr-73
CHINON-A2 GCR   210 EDF Permanent Shutdown LEVIVIER 01-Aug-59 17-Aug-64 24-Feb-65 24-Feb-65 14-Jun-85
CHINON-A3 GCR   480 EDF Permanent Shutdown GTM 01-Mar-61 01-Mar-66 04-Aug-66 04-Aug-66 15-Jun-90
CHOOZ-A (ARDENNES) PWR   310 SENA Permanent Shutdown A/F/W 01-Jan-62 18-Oct-66 03-Apr-67 15-Apr-67 30-Oct-91
EL-4 (MONTS D'ARREE) HWGCR 70 EDF Permanent Shutdown GAAA 01-Jul-62 23-Dec-66 09-Jul-67 01-Jun-68 31-Jul-85
G-2 (MARCOULE) GCR   38 COGEMA Permanent Shutdown SACM 01-Mar-55 21-Jul-58 22-Apr-59 22-Apr-59 02-Feb-80
G-3 (MARCOULE) GCR   38 COGEMA Permanent Shutdown SACM 01-Mar-56 11-Jun-59 04-Apr-60 04-Apr-60 20-Jun-84
ST. LAURENT-A1 GCR   480 EDF Permanent Shutdown VARIOUS 01-Oct-63 07-Jan-69 14-Mar-69 01-Jun-69 18-Apr-90
ST. LAURENT-A2 GCR   515 EDF Permanent Shutdown VARIOUS 01-Jan-66 04-Jul-71 09-Aug-71 01-Nov-71 27-May-92
SUPER*-PHENIX FBR   1200 EDF Permanent Shutdown ASPALDO 13-Dec-76 07-Sep-85 14-Jan-86   31-Dec-98

Source: EDF and IAEA Power Reactor Information System.


2.3.  Supply of NPPs

The leading company is AREVA. It results from the association of Framatome ANP, Cogema, AREVA T&D, and FCI. The nuclear sectors of  Framatome and the German Siemens have merged in 2000 into Framatome-ANP (Advanced nuclear power) owned at 64% by AREVA and 36% by Siemens.

Historically the main companies in the nuclear plant construction industry were Framatome (AREVA NP), which supplied the nuclear island, and Alstom for the conventional part. After Alcatel withdrawal from Framatome’s ownership, the decision has been taken in 1999 to transfer most of its shares to Cogema (AREVA NC) and CEA. In counterpart, Framatome has taken over Cogema’s activities in uranium fuel manufacturing.

2.4.  Operation of NPPs

The electricity utility Electricité de France (EDF) owns and operates all the French nuclear power plants. In 2005, the nuclear plants have reached an availability factor of 83.4%.

2.5.  Fuel Cycle and Waste Management

AREVA NC, (ex COGEMA) controls most of the fuel cycle industry, with the exception of UO-fuel manufacturing (AREVA NP) and of waste management and disposal, run by the independent public agency ANDRA. AREVA NC is an industrial and commercial leader in all phases of the fuel cycle, including prospection and running of uranium mines, conversion (Comurhex), enrichment (Eurodif), MOX-fuel fabrication (Melox), reprocessing and waste packaging.

2.6.  Research and Development

In 1945 the French government created a national agency, the Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique (CEA), for the development of all aspects of atomic energy, including both civil and military applications. Although its responsibilities changed through time, particularly with the transfer of some industrial activities to newly created subsidiaries, CEA has retained most of its early activities and interests in mean and long term R&D, notably in reactor design, fuel concepts, enrichment, waste transmutation and disposal as well as in technology transfer and fundamental research.

The CEA has joined the GIF (Generation IV International Forum) R&D programme to study promising technologies for future nuclear energy systems, addressing in the first place the issues of enhanced safety, sustainability, non-proliferation and economics.

The French R&D program on Future Nuclear Systems in the Generation IV framework is focused on two axis:

In June 2005, the site of Cadarache (France) was officially chosen to welcome ITER (International Thermoreactor Experimental Reactor).

A new experimental fission reactor (100 MWth) called Jules Horowitz has been designed and may start to be built by 2007. It will be used for experiments on nuclear materials and fuels.

2.7.  International Co-operation and Initiatives

France is member of several international organizations, including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as well as other bilateral and multilateral organizations such as the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO).

France also participates in INPRO (lAEA) for the relation between developers and other potential users of future nuclear technologies.

As mentioned above, France is also member of the Generation IV International Forum (GIF), an international collective of 10 countries dedicated to the development of the next generation of nuclear reactors and fuel cycle technologies.

2.8.  Human resources development

The INSTN (Nuclear Techniques and Sciences National Institute - Institut National des Sciences et des Techniques Nucléaires) was created in 1956 by the CEA under the authority of the National Education Ministry and the Industry Ministry. Its main mission is to transmit CEA's know-how. It delivers academic diplomas (e.g. Masters), engineer diplomas, and welcome PhD students. It also offers continuous training. It is certified ISO 2001 and chairs the European Nuclear Education Network (ENEN).


3.1.  Safety Authority and the Licensing Process

Nuclear legislation in France has developed in successive stages in line with technological advances and growth in the atomic energy field. Therefore, many of the enactments governing nuclear activities are to be found in the general French legislation on environmental protection, water supply, atmospheric pollution, public health and labour.

However, the French Parliament has adopted a number of specific enactments. Examples include Act No. 68-493 (30 October 1968), setting special rules as to third party liability in the field of nuclear energy, which is distinct from the ordinary French law on third party liability, the 19 July 1952 Act, now embodied in the Public Health Code, specifying licensing requirements for the use of radioisotopes, Act No. 80-572 of 25 July 1980 on the protection and control of nuclear materials, and Act No. 91-1381 on the management of nuclear wastes. In June 2006 was adopted the Act 2006-686 on transparency and safety.

Although French nuclear law is characterized by its variety of sources, as in other countries where nuclear energy has developed, the original features of this legislation derive chiefly from international recommendations or regulations. For example, radiation protection standards are derived from the Recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) and Directives issued by the European Union (formerly the European Community). Likewise, the French Act of 1968 on the liability of nuclear operators is directly derived from the Paris Convention of 29 July 1960.

French nuclear legislation began to develop from the time the Atomic Energy Commission (Commissariat à l'énergie atomique - CEA), the public agency set up by the State in 1945 [Ordinance No. 45-2563 of 18 October 1945] and formerly reporting directly to the prime minister, no longer held a monopoly for nuclear activities, in other words from the time nuclear energy applications entered the industrial stage, thus requiring the involvement of new nuclear operators. This development had several landmarks: in 1963, a system for licensing and controlling major nuclear installations was introduced, setting government responsibility in matters of population and occupational safety (Decree of 11 December 1963). Prior to this, procedures concerning the licensing and control of industrial activities were dealt with by the Préfet for each Département. In 1973, this system was expanded to cover the development of the nuclear power programme, and better define the role of government authorities. Finally, the decree of 20 June 1966 included Euratom Directives as part of the French radiation protection regulations.

In the course of the 1980’s, the enactments setting up the CEA were amended so as to strengthen its inter-ministerial status and a tripartite Board of Administration including staff representatives was created. However governmental decisions are prepared by the Atomic Energy Committee, which acts as a restricted inter-ministerial committee on nuclear energy matters. CEA is now answerable to the Minister for Industry, to the Minister for Research [Decrees No. 93-1272 of 1 December 1993 and No. 93-796 of 16 April 1993] and to the Minister of Defense. The main task of CEA was laid down in September 1992 by the Government: concentrate on developing the control of atom uses for purposes of energy, health, defence and industry, while remaining attentive to the requests made by its industrial and research partners. More specifically, the inter-ministerial committee of 1 June 1999 requested CEA to “strengthen long-term research on future reactors capable of reducing, and even eliminate the production of long-lived radio-active waste”. In addition CEA was given a particular responsibility for R&D on alternative and renewable energies.

The regulations for large nuclear installations, referred to above, have been supplemented with regard to procedures by an Instruction of 27 March 1973 and a Decision of the same date (amended by a Decision of 17 December 1976), which are internal instruments issued by the Minister for Industry. The authorities primarily involved in the licensing procedure for the setting up of large nuclear installations are the Minister for Industry and the Minister for Ecology and Sustainable Development. For this purpose, the Central Service for Nuclear Installations Safety (SCSIN), set up in 1973 within the Ministry of Industry, had been reshuffled as the Directorate for Nuclear Installations Safety (Direction de la Sûreté des Installations Nucléaires, DSIN.

In the beginning of 2002, the DGSNR (General Directorate for Nuclear Safety and Radioprotection) was created as a result of the merger of DSIN and the former Central Board for Protection against Ionizing Radiations (Office de Protection contre les rayonnements ionisants, OPRI). As a consequence, in addition to nuclear safety, DGSNR retained also the responsibilities of the former OPRI regarding radioprotection, ie carrying out measurements or analytical work in order to determine the level of radioactivity or ionizing radiation that might become hazardous to health in various environmental situations, for individuals as well as for the population as a whole. It also co-ordinated and defined controls for the radiation protection of workers and was involved in the safety plans to be put in action in case of radioactive incident. DGSNR reported to the Ministers for Industry, Health and Ecology and Sustainable Development. At the local level, DGSNR’s actions were relayed through the nuclear divisions of the Regional Directorates for Industry, Research and Environment (DRIRE). These Directorates are in charge of the survey of nuclear installations and monitoring reactor shutdowns and all pressurized components. They also provide technical support to the “préfet”, the Government local representative, in particular in case of accident.

DGSNR was assisted in decision making by the Institute for Radiation-Protection and Nuclear Safety (Institut de Radio-Protection et de Sûreté Nucléaire - IRSN), itself resulting from the merger of the former IPSN (Institut de Protection et de sûreté nucléaire) and part of the OPRI (Office de protection contre les rayonnements ionisants). The IRSN can also undertake studies or research on protection and nuclear safety problems on request of any concerned ministerial department or agency (Law n°2001-398 AFSSE of 9 May 2001).

In June 2006, the Act 2006-686 on transparency and safety created the Authority for Nuclear Safety (ASN-Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire). It is an independent administrative agency headed by 5 members designated by the President of the Republic and the Presidents of the two Parliament Assemblies. The agency is consulted before decisions concerning nuclear safety, nuclear security, and radioprotection are taken by decrees. It can also complete the legislation on technical matters but its decisions may be homologated by the Ministers in charge of these questions. The ASN also has the responsibility of:

3.2.  Main National Laws and Regulations in Nuclear Power

3.2.1.  Organization and structure

Atomic energy commission - Commissariat à l’énergie atomique (CEA)

Nuclear safety authority

Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN)

National Agency for radioactive waste management (ANDRA)

Organization in the field of defence

3.2.2.  Regulatory provisions for nuclear installations

Basic nuclear installations (installations nucléaires de base - INB)

Liquid and gaseous effluent release and water intake

Installations classified on environmental grounds (installations classées pour la protection de l’environnement - ICPE)

Nuclear installations classified as secret

Electricity public utility

3.2.3.  Radiation Protection

Protection of public and environment

Protection of workers

Radiological emergency

3.2.4.  Regulatory regime for radioactive materials

3.2.5.  Radioactive waste management

3.2.6.  Civil Liability

3.2.7.  Nuclear Test-Ban


4.1.  Energy Policy

Two main events regarding Energy policy happened in 2005-2006: the adoption of the 2005-781 Law on Energy, and the release of the report on investments “PPI” as stipulated in the Law 2000-108 on modernization and development of the public electricity service.

The Law 2005-781 "energy orientation law" has been adopted by the Parliament the 13 July 2005. It indicates the four main goals of the French energy policy:

To reach these goals, four main ways are followed:

Also, an important stipulation of the draft law is that Greenhouse Gas emissions must be divided by four up to 2050.

The Law 2000-108 on modernization and development of the public electricity service of 10 February 2000 stipulates that a report on medium-term power generation capacity investments planning (PPI, Programmation pluriannuelle des investissements) must be prepared by the energy Ministry. Last report on PPI was officially released by the Government in July 2006 and concerns the period 2005-2015. It identifies the following evolutions:

Regarding nuclear energy, the report indicates that nuclear production through the existing plants is going to stabilize after having strongly increased last years.

The report must be presented and discussed by the Parliament, and followed by a decree from the government.

4.2.  Privatisation and deregulation

In the wake of successive legislations, the role of public authorities has changed.

The European directives on electricity market liberalization have been implemented in the French legislation through law n° 2000-108 of 10 February 2000 on the modernization and development of the public electricity service. This law states in its first article :

“The purpose of the public electricity service is to guarantee electricity supplies throughout the country, having due regard to general interest.

In the context of the energy policy, the public electricity service contributes to the independence and security of supply, air quality and combating the greenhouse effect, optimum management and development of national resources, control of demand for energy, economic competitiveness and control of technical choices for the future, as well as efficiency in energy use.

It furthers social cohesion, by ensuring the universal right to electricity, contributes to combating exclusion, a balanced spatial development, having due regard to the environment, research and technological progress as well as defence and public order.

The public electricity service shall be organized by the State and the local authorities or their public co-operation establishments, each for its part.”

It follows from this article that the government retains the responsibility of establishing objectives regarding security of energy supply or regional planning. In addition it remains responsible for defining and enforcing adherence to the rules within which the various market players must act. Of course, public authorities retain the traditional governmental activities such as preparation and development of regulations, energy taxation, public service obligations, personnel and installation safety, environment protection, in particular implementation of the European directives regarding greenhouse gases emissions and the share of renewable energies in electricity production. They also keep the general responsibility of insuring long term supply by supporting R&D efforts when private companies would not engage by themselves appropriate involvement. In addition, through the procedure of call for bids or the authorization required for the new production plants (decree n° 2000-877 of 7 September 2000), the government keeps the ability to set conditions for new power units, including the energetical, technical, economic, financial and geographical characteristics of the installation (for instance regarding greenhouse gas emissions or other pollutants, long term supply stability or use of domestic energy resources), and thus influence the choice of the energy sources.

Regarding public service obligations, the law of 10 February 2000 has created a specific fund (Fonds du service public de la production d’électricité, FSPPE) intended for compensating the excess costs attributable to public service obligations (purchase obligation for green electricity, power production in non-connected zones such as overseas départments, etc.). This fund is suppliedby the different electricity producers established in the French territory including auto-producers as well as by the electricity importers.

Regarding the European directive on renewable energy, France is due to raise the share of renewable electricity from the actual value of about 15% to 21%. To this aim, the hydro power availability being already used almost at full, special effort is made to increase the contribution of wind energy.

Since the 1st of July 2004, any company is actually free to choose its energy supplier on the French electricity market that is thus open at 70%. The liberalization will be totally accomplished in July 2007 when any customer has the same possibility.

The public companies EDF and GDF, created in 1946, have become limited liability companies since the 19th of November 2004, according to the Act of August 9, 2004. This new legal form means that both companies are no longer bound by the "specialty principle" that was attached to their status of state-owned company (EPIC) since 1946. They can now propose multi-energy offers to customers. GDF has increased its capital by 30% in June 2005, and EDF by 30% in October 2005 (the law stipulates that the French State holds at least 70% of the capital and voting rights in EDF SA and GDF SA).

The other public companies are now widely open to the private sector: the coal fired plants operator SNET (Société Nationale d’Electricité et de Thermique) is now owned at 65% by ENDESA and 18,75% by EDF, the company Energie du Rhône, that trades the electricity production of the hydropower stations of CNR (Compagnie Nationale du Rhône) is owned at 49,95% by Electrabel.

4.3.   Safety and Waste Management issues

Nowadays, 84% of radioactive wastes volumes produced by French operators are subject to a long term management. The other ones are conditioned and stored before a final solution. Thus, the ANDRA (Agence Nationale pour la gestion des Déchets Radioactifs) manages existing storage facilities.

It entrusted the CEA with the first and third axes and ANDRA with the second. In 1999, the government approved the decision to create a laboratory on a clay site in Bure. The experimental area at – 490m is operational since April 2005.

This law 91-1381 also specified that after 15 years of research (so, in 2006), the government might submit a draft law on nuclear wastes to the Parliament. The government organised a public debate that happened from September 2005 to January 2006 and then transmitted a draft law in March 2006. The Parliament modified and adopted the Law 2006-739 on “sustainable management of nuclear wastes and materials” the 28 June 2006.

The Law 2006-739 creates a National Plan of nuclear wastes management, and institutes a program to implement it. It shapes 3 main lines:

A National Commission must evaluate annually the progress of research. The building of a storage facility will be submitted to a Prime Minister decree by 2015 after examination of the project by the ASN and a public debate.

Furthermore, the Law 2006-739 specifies a framework on the financing and dismantling of nuclear facilities and wastes management in order to secure their provisioning. Utilities must constitute dedicated assets, and secure their availability.

A High Committee for Transparency and Information on Nuclear Security is created by the Law 2006-686 on transparency and safety of 13 June 2006. It must regularly organise debates on sustainable management of nuclear wastes.



Appendix 1



•  Agreement on privileges and immunities



•  Voluntary offer: Agreement with the European Atomic Energy Community for the application of safeguards in France; INFCIRC No: 290

Entry into force:

12 September 1981

•  Additional protocol to the Agreement with the European Atomic Energy Community for the application of safeguards in France


22 September 1998

•  Safeguards Agreement under the additional protocol I to the Tlatelolco Treaty; GOV/1998/31


21 March 2000

•  Tlatlelolco Treaty



•  Additional protocol nº1

Entry into force:

24 August 1994

•  Additional protocol nº2

Entry into force:

23 March 1974





•  Japan / France

Entry into force:

22 September 1972

•  Republic of Korea / France

Entry into force:

22 September 1975

•  Pakistan / France

Entry into force:

18 March 1976

•  Exchange of letters between the governments of France and the Republic of Iraq supplementary to the Franco Iraqi co-operation agreement for the peaceful utilization of nuclear energy

Entry into force:

4 November 1976

•  South Africa / France

Entry into force:

5 January 1977


•  NPT

Entry into force:

3 August 1992

•  Convention on physical protection of nuclear material

Entry into force:

6 October 1991

•  Convention on early notification of a nuclear accident

Entry into force:

6 April 1989

•  Convention on assistance in the case of a nuclear accident or radiological emergency;

Entry into force:

6 April 1989

•  Vienna conventions on civil liability for nuclear damage

Non Party


•  Paris conventions on third party liability in the field of nuclear energy

Entry into force:

9 March 1966

•  Joint protocol relating to the application of the Vienna and Paris conventions


21 June 1989

•  Protocol to amend the Vienna convention on civil liability for nuclear damage

Not signed


•  Convention on supplementary compensation for nuclear damage

Not signed


•  Convention on nuclear safety

Entry into force:

24 October 1996

•  Joint convention on the safety of spent fuel management and on the safety of radioactive waste management

Entry into force:

18 June 2001


•  Antarctic treaty

Entry into force:

16 September 1960

•  London Convention

Entry into force:

5 March 1977

•  OSPAR Convention

Entry into force:

25 March 1998

•  Rarotonga Treaty


25 March 1996

•  Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty


6 April 1998

•  Zangger Committee



•  Improved procedures for designation of safeguards inspector

Accepted on:

26 April 1989

•  Nuclear Suppliers Group



•  Acceptance of NUSS Codes

Summary: Generally positive; will be taken into account for own regulations; compatible with national regulations. (Letter of 9 August 1988)

•  Nuclear Export Guidelines




•  France / Russian Federation


26 November 1996

•  France / Ukraine


3 September 1998

•  France / Belgium


8 September 1998

•  France / Russian Federation


12 January 1999

•  France / Turkey


21 September 1999

•  France / Russian Federation
(on civil nuclear liability)


20 June 2000


Appendix 2



Direction Générale de l'Energie
et des matières Premières
DGEMP (Ministry of Industry)
61 Boulevard Vincent Auriol
F-75703 Paris Cedex 13

Tel: +33 (0)1 44 87 17 17


Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique (CEA)
91191 Gif sur Yvette

Tel: +33 (0)1 69 08 60 00

Institut National des Sciences et Techniques
Nucléaires (INSTN, National Institute for
Nuclear Science and Technology;
also under the Ministry of Education)


Direction Générale de la Sûreté Nucléaire
et de la Radioprotection
(DGSNR, under Ministries for Industry, Health
and Ecology and Sustainable Development)
99, rue de Grenelle
F-75353 Paris 07
60-68 av. du Général-Leclerc B.P. 6
F-92265 Fontenay-aux-Roses

Tel: +33 (0)1 43 19 36 36


Tel: +33 (0)1 46 54 70 80
Fax: +33 (0)1 42 53 69 04

Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire
(IRSN, Nuclear Safety and Radioprotection Institute)
F-92262 Fontenay-aux-Roses Cedex
77-83, avenue du Général-De-Gaulle
F-92140 Clamart

Tel: +33 (0)1 58 35 88 88
Fax: +33 (0)1 58 35 84 51

Comité Interministériel de la Sécurité Nucléaire
13, rue de Bourgogne
F-75007 Paris

Tel: +33 (0)1 43 19 56 78

Agence Nationale pour la Gestion
des Déchets Radioactifs (ANDRA)
Parc de la Croix Blanche
1-7, rue Jean Monnet
F-92298 Chatenay-Malabry Cedex

Tel: +33 (0)1 46 11 80 00
Fax: +33 (0)1 46 11 82 68


Electricité de France (EDF)
22 -30, avenue de Wagram
F-75382 Paris Cedex 08

Tel: +33 (0)1 40 42 22 22
Fax: +33 (0)1 40 42 13 32

27 - 29 rue Le Peletier
F-75 433 - Paris Cedex 09

Tel: +33 (0)1 44 83 71 00
Fax: +33 (0)1 44 83 25 00

2, rue Paul Dautier
B.P. 4
F-78141 Vélizy Cedex

Tel: +33 (0)1 39 26 30 00
Fax: +33 (0)1 39 26 27 00

Tour Framatome
La Défense
F-92084 Paris-La Défense Cedex

Tel: +33 (0)1 47 96 14 14
Fax: +33 (0)1 47 96 01 02


Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)

European Synchrotron Radiation Facility
Grenoble (ESRF)

Institut National de Physique Nucléaire
et de Physique des Particules (IN2P3)

Laboratoire pour I'Utilisation du Rayonnement
Electromagnétique - CNRS (LURE)

Synchrotron SOLEIL

DRFC-CEA Cadarache
(Département de Recherches sur la Fusion Contrôlée)


European Science Foundation

European Space Agency (ESA)

IEA International Energy Agency

Nuclear Energy Agency of the OECD (NEA)

Organization for Economic Co-operation
and Development (OECD)


Société Française de l'Energie Nucléaire

World Council of Nuclear Workers (WONUC)


[1] The statistical tables (4,5 and 6) in this profile have been updated with data as of July 2009 from IAEA databases and Energy and Economic Data Bank (EEDB, 2009).