France to build underwater nuclear reactors


French state-controlled naval company DCNS plans to develop underwater civilian nuclear reactors. DCNS is working in partnership with Areva, EDF, and CEA and plans to build its first prototype in 2013.


DCNS announced its plans to build small to medium underwater reactors to provide electricity to consumers on land following preliminary work which lasted two years, according to a statement on its website.

The company says its project Flexblue is a response to global energy challenges and renewed interest in nuclear power. It will “reduce greenhouse gas emissions while conserving fossil fuels”, a company statement says.

DCNS has been working in partnership with French companies Areva, EDF and the French Atomic Energy Commission.

Engineers have been working on plans to create a capsule-shaped reactor of approximately 100 metres in length which would be moored on the sea floor at a depth of 60 to 100 metres, a few kilometres off the coast.

DCNS head Patrick Boissier told French weekly Usine Nouvelle that underwater reactors are safer, and less vulnerable to terrorist attacks and natural disasters than those on land.

“The reactor would produce safe, competitive energy, that does not emit any carbon,” he said.

The company aims to complete its prototype in 2016.

France obtains much of its electricity from nuclear power and markets its expertise abroad.

But its efforts to export waste have met with opposition and the industry has experienced a number of alerts, with critics claiming it is not safe.

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