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U.K. Builds Nuclear Plants While France Scales Back

The British and French have swapped nuclear energy postures

3 min read
U.K. Builds Nuclear Plants While France Scales Back
The End: This nuclear reactor, under construction in northwest France, could be the country’s last.
Photo: Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images

Nations that are considering nuclear energy must grapple with its high capital costs and Fukushima-scale risk. An energy-policy riptide along the English Channel shows how unpredictable the calculations can be: Both France and the United Kingdom have scrapped fundamental planks in their energy policies, with one ramping up and the other dialing down.

In the U.K., where Margaret Thatcher set off a global movement by deregulating the power industry, the current prime minister is offering subsidies to attract financing for new nuclear reactors. Across the water, France, which staked its economic future on nuclear power a generation ago, is now planning that technology’s decline. These policy shifts have been in the works since 2012, but they are coming to a head as both governments put the finishing touches on sweeping energy-reform legislation.

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Greg Mably

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