The eco brief. Is EDF preparing to take over the nuclear activities of the American General Electric?

The question is officially on the table. The two groups confirm that they have started discussions.

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This announcement comes six years after the controversial takeover of the energy branch of the French Alstom by the American General Electric. Operation supported at the time by Emmanuel Macron, then Minister of the Economy and Finance of François Hollande. Six years later, if there is agreement, the nuclear activities of the American group General Electric could therefore return to the French fold. For EDF, it would be a question of resuming the manufacture of steam turbines, called Arabelle, produced in Belfort. These are high performance turbines adaptable to all types of nuclear reactors anywhere in the world.

Opinions are divided on this operation, starting with the boss of EDF who must manage a debt of 40 billion euros. Jean-Bernard Lévy is apparently not convinced by such a rapprochement. The business can only work if the state places an order. This would require France to launch new EPR projects, the new generation reactor, which does not have good press due to the costly delay of the Flamanville plant. On the trade union side, the first legitimate concern is that of securing jobs and skills.

Would the State use EDF as an armed wing of an industrial policy operation? The director of the Center for Geopolitics of Energy and Raw Materials, economist Patrice Geoffron, provides some food for thought. On the energy front, in the context of rising prices, ensuring the nuclear sector to avoid France from depending on wind and gas is a real subject for the next President of the Republic.

After the clash of Australian submarines, the State has every interest in showing that it is capable of securing its strategic sectors. Why buy back today from the Americans part of what France ceded to them six years ago? It is up to the strategic state to respond and convince.

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