The objective of this new generation of sodium-cooled reactors is to use depleted uranium and plutonium as fuel, in other words to reuse the radioactive materials from the current French fleet and largely stored at the La Grande site. Hague (Channel) operated by Orano (formerly Areva).
While the prototype Astrid was to be built on the site of Marcoule (Gard), an internal source at the CEA cited by The world indicates that the twenty-five-person unit coordinating the program was closed in the spring and that the research organization "is devoting no more resources or energy to it".
A high cost, estimated between 5 and 10 billion euros
The CEA, for its part, declared in a statement that it was continuing its work under the study program agreement, which ends at the end of 2019.
"However, the construction of the prototype reactor, is not programmed in the short or medium term. In the current energy context, the prospect of industrial development of 4th generation reactors is indeed no longer considered before the second half of this century, "he added.
The research organization also recalled that, in accordance with its commitments to the public authorities, it would propose by the end of the year to the government a revised research program on the 4th generation of nuclear reactors for 2020 and beyond. beyond, which will in particular "maintain the skills developed on fast sodium reactors".
Le Monde explains the ongoing abandonment of the project Astrid by its high cost – estimated at between 5 and 10 billion euros – in a context of relatively low uranium prices and abundant resources, and by "a lack of political support".
According to figures of the Court of Auditors quoted by the daily, nearly 738 million euros were invested in the project at the end of 2017, of which nearly 500 million come from the large loan of the Program of investments for the future.