Kick-off for green nuclear financing at EDF

As part of developing green financing for its activities, EDF is borrowing €1 billion from Crédit Agricole to finance the Grand Carénage project. A first in the energy world.

The €1 billion loan signed by EDF with Crédit Agricole will be used to finance the maintenance of the existing nuclear fleet as part of the Grand Carénage program. This is the first time the group’s nuclear business has benefited from green financing. “What’s interesting about the major refurbishment program is its concrete nature. We can calculate the carbon emissions of a nuclear KWh over its entire life cycle in a robust way, according to recognized methodological standards,” emphasizes Matthew Reed, in charge of sustainable finance development at EDF.

After a long political battle in Brussels, this publication came when nuclear power entered the European taxonomy [1]. After political recognition of its green nature, it is therefore not surprising that EDF has included nuclear activities (maintenance of the current fleet, renewal of the nuclear fleet, and R&D for 4th generation reactors) in its Green Financing Framework (GFF) [2]. A part of nuclear activities, in particular those during the fuel extraction phases, remains, to date, excluded from the framework of eligible activities [3].

Growing acceptance of nuclear power

The quantification of avoided emissions, and more generally, the transparency of the nature of the projects financed, is an increasingly essential rule in the financial markets. As banks (and their clients) become more demanding and concerned about the environmental nature of the activities they finance, alignment with best market practices is imperative.

In the future, according to Matthew Reed, “taxonomy will help integrate nuclear into the green finance world,” despite some players still excluding nuclear from their sustainable finance activity [4]. Trend-wise, we can expect “a greater acceptance of nuclear,” he assures. ■

By Ilyas Hanine (Sfen)

[1] For the time being, as transitional energy with numerous clauses framing its qualification.

[2] In July 2022, EDF published its Green Financing Framework, which extends all available financing modalities (loans, debt issues, etc.) of its previous sustainable finance plan, which only covered green bond issues.

[3] According to EDF’s LCA study, it is the mine that concentrates most of the material and energy flow inventory.

[4] In France, nuclear power is excluded from the three existing labels.

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