UK and France seek to usher in new nuclear era

France and the UK have signed new agreements which will see the two countries co-operate more closely on both nuclear energy and the renewables sector.

The move is part of a broader push by European states to ensure that they will not be held ransom to over-dependence on Russian gas imports in the future.

A nuclear-specific agreement establishes a working group on nuclear innovation and safety, with both countries building nuclear plants, both full-sized and small modular reactors, with reducing reliance on Russia for civil nuclear goods also mentioned as a priority.

“France and the UK are working together so that never again can the likes of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin weaponise our energy security,” British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.

“We are creating a future where every watt of energy powering our homes and industry will come from secure, sustainable and reliable sources.”

French President Emmanuel Macron said he hoped the British could share their expertise in offshore wind. 

Both countries will also cooperate on clean-energy technology, such as hydrogen and carbon capture.

“We have a common ambition, and that is to exit fossil fuels,” Macron said. 

The agreements come in the same week that France’s nuclear safety watchdog ASN  ordered energy utility EDF to inspect pipe weldings across its aging 56-nuclear reactor fleet after discovering three additional cracks this week, the regulator said.

EDF is currently building a new nuclear plant in Britain, Sizewell C. A second plant, Hinkley Point C, is also mooted.