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MATCH program, a tool for nuclear capacity building in France

Jun 12, 2023

Olivier Bard, Director General, GIFEN

MATCH program, a tool for nuclear capacity building in France
A historic momentum for nuclear energy in France and Europe

In 2022, President Macron expressed a long-term vision regarding the French energy system in order to reach net-zero by 2050. That vision resolutely includes nuclear energy with a large-scale industrial programme that echoes the nuclear plan that was launched 50 years ago. Up until now, France and Europe have generally focused on operating the infrastructure inherited from that period. We have now reached a historical milestone where we must simultaneously invest in keeping that infrastructure in operation for as long as possible – because it is a major asset for our economy – and in building new nuclear power generation capacity to cover both nuclear fleet replacement and expansion. In line with that ambition, the French nuclear industry is fully mobilised not only to meet the challenges of its domestic programme but also alongside its peers in Europe who are facing the same challenges.

Few industries have experienced such vitality in recent decades. By the very nature of its size, the French nuclear programme is a valuable opportunity to trigger investment and industrial mobilisation in both France and the European Union (EU)l. It is a strong contributor to the ambition set by the European Nuclear Alliance which gathers 15 European Member States and which recently highlighted the importance of relying on integrated European supply chains to reach 150 GW of nuclear power capacity by 2050.

MATCH program: a tool for capacity building

As the federation which represents companies involved in the nuclear industry in France, GIFEN provides the necessary structure and governance to lead collective mobilisation according to the ambition set by the French government and the European Nuclear Alliance.

The goal is to ensure that human, industrial and financial capacities match the level of resources required to deliver on the needs of these nuclear activities.

That includes not only new build requirements but also operation & maintenance, fuel cycle and dismantling operations, Small Modular Reactor (SMR) developments and International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) and so on. To meet that challenge, GIFEN has established the MATCH program, which provides a ten-year roadmap for the industry. MATCH is structured into 20 operational activities specific to nuclear (piping, civil work, engineering, electrical components, instrumentation, and non-destructive testing, control, etc). It has identified 84 relevant types of skilled jobs and specified their training requirements in terms of lead-time-to-full-operation. According to the first results published in April 2023, the French nuclear industry should experience a 25% growth in terms of workload over the next 10 years. That growth is primarily expected at the level of suppliers. It is mostly due to the ramping up of a new nuclear programme, and the estimate does not include productivity gains that can be expected from efforts made in operational excellence as the programme is executed.

Thanks to the lessons learned from MATCH, the industry can identify where to anticipate and take early action. Three action levers have been identified to enable the sector to meet its objectives: developing resources (human and material), enhancing operational performance and securing the financial health of companies to sustain investment, and accelerate hiring and grow operations. The MATCH program is designed to include an update of the situation on a yearly basis in order to measure mobilisation and to set actions accordingly. The programme will also contribute to the Deloitte study of the European nuclear ecosystem commissioned by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Energy (DG ENER). Furthermore, I will have the opportunity to highlight the first set of results of the MATCH program during the nucleareurope conference in Lyon on 21 June 2023.

A key to success: strengthening synergies among European partners

In order to face the challenges ahead, the French industry is keen to strengthen links with its European counterparts. The European Nuclear Alliance clearly paves the way for deep integration of the European supply chain. A long-term vision of the expected workload enhances the need and opportunity to develop peer partnerships that will make the industry stronger and more able to address the multiplicity of projects.

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