Arabelle Turbines Now Part of the EDF Group

The powerful Arabelle turbines, particularly essential for EPR and EPR2 reactors, have returned to the French nuclear sector. Initially acquired by American company GE in 2016, the former Alstom industrial facilities have now been reclaimed by EDF, as announced by President Emmanuel Macron.

At last! After more than two years of negotiations, the agreement has been signed. The Arabelle turbines, manufactured in Belfort by GE at the former Alstom facilities, are now back under the French flag, specifically in the hands of EDF. “On May 31, EDF officially takes over the nuclear activities of General Electric, including the maintenance and manufacturing activities of the Arabelle turbines,” Emmanuel Macron explained in an interview with the regional newspapers of the EBRA group. The finalisation of this agreement has been anticipated since 2022.

This return to the national nuclear sector is significant as France embarks on a robust program of new reactor constructions with the EPR2 program. “The agreements concluded ensure the continuity of this activity, which is a real source of French pride,” added the French President.

EDF and GE announced in February 2022 an “exclusivity agreement” to discuss the French energy company’s acquisition of GE Steam Power, the American conglomerate’s nuclear branch. Emmanuel Macron then announced from Belfort the launch of a vast French nuclear program.

American Opposition

While Washington had long opposed this operation due to the geopolitical context with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Emmanuel Macron explained: “I am not going to betray the secrets of the dealings between these companies, but we have secured the granting of the necessary American licenses for the operation.”

In a statement from EDF, CEO Luc Rémont wrote: “I am delighted to now include Arabelle Solutions in the EDF group, one of the jewels of the nuclear industry. This new subsidiary will enable us to deploy key technologies and maintenance services for EDF and other nuclear operators in France and internationally. The acquisition accompanies the relaunch of nuclear reactor construction.”

Frédéric Wiscart, president of Arabelle Solutions, reminds us that “a third of the nuclear power plants in the world already rely on our steam turbine and alternator technologies and our robust service capabilities to produce low-carbon electricity. With decades of innovation in the nuclear energy field, Arabelle Solutions is well-positioned to support the growing number of countries that view nuclear energy as a reliable and decarbonised energy source.”

In its statement, EDF specifies that Arabelle Solutions provides and maintains equipment for new nuclear plants. Additionally, “the steam turbines from Arabelle Solutions will notably be able to equip reactors of EPR, EPR2 (European Pressurized Reactor), and SMR (Small Modular Reactor) technologies.” ■

By Ludovic Dupin (Sfen)

Photo: Emmanuel Macron in February 2022 in front of an Arabelle turbine in Belfort – @JEAN-FRANCOIS BADIASPOOLAFP