French nuclear energy company Orano is investing €1.7 billion to expand its uranium-enrichment capacity and reduce dependence on Russia.Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
On Thursday, Orano’s board approved a 30% production capacity increase for its Tricastine factory in southern France – Europe’s largest nuclear technology site.
The project and its resulting financing will allow France to move forward Away from its dependence on Russia.
“In the current geopolitical context, this increase in enrichment capabilities aims to strengthen Western energy sovereignty in France,” said Claude Imouvain, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Orano. in a statement,
The French multinational specializing in the nuclear fuel cycle said their increased uranium production capacity would allow them to supply energy to 120 million homes.
Enriched uranium is more efficient for energy production than natural uranium, because its fission reaction (fissioning the atom and producing heat) is more easily achieved – which, in turn, produces nuclear energy.
There are currently four uranium-enrichment groups worldwide, with Orano being the smallest, whose activities account for 12% of the global market. Chinese national company CNNC comes second (14%), followed by European group Eurenko (31%).
The world leader is Russia’s Rosatom, which produces 43% of the world’s enriched uranium.
Need for self-reliance in energy sector
Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine reminded world leaders how important energy independence is.
The lack of preparation in that area has contributed heavily to the energy and subsequent cost of living crisis that Europe is currently going through.
From March 2022, the EU is looking to reduce its Russian oil and gas dependence.
Although the bloc has already taken several important steps, such change takes time: EU plans to end Its fossil fuel exports from Russia in 2027.
Meanwhile, European money would continue to flow into Russia and indirectly finance the country’s war.
French company Orano did not directly mention Russia in its statement, but hinted at the need to regain sovereignty. Again, such a change would not be immediate, as the announced production is expected to begin in 2028.