The European pressurized water reactor (EPR) project was the result of a French-German partnership entered into in 1989. Germany withdrew from that agreement in 1998. After 2001, the recently set-up Areva group developed a “turnkey” EPR sales strategy to compete with EDF which saw itself as the frontrunner in “new nuclear power” in France and abroad.
Because of a lack of oversight at the time, the rivalry between these two public groups, led to the hasty launch of the two first EPRs in Finland and at Flamanville. This insufficient preparation led to an underestimation of the difficulties and construction costs and an overestimation of the French nuclear sector’s ability to tackle them creating financial risks for sector companies.
Despite this choice of technology having been proven in China and the improvements made in the management of these large-scale projects, the financial and technical gains expected from the EPR 2 project remain to be confirmed. The construction of the new EPRs in France should not have been considered, under any circumstances, without a clear idea of the financing methods and the place of electronuclear production in the future electricity mix.