Cablegate: French Electricity Leader En Route to the U.S.
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 000227
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SUBJECT: French Electricity Leader en route to the U.S.
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SENSITIVE BUT CLASSIFIED. NOT FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION.
1. (SBU) Summary: Henri Proglio is making his first trip to the U.S.
as CEO of Electricite de France (EDF). His goal is to gauge
potential American partners and review the firm's U.S. investments.
EDF plans to expand as a "diversified service company" that can
operate different nuclear reactor types, but also develop renewable
energy projects, and advise on energy asset management and energy
optimization. Proglio noted different trends in nuclear energy
market development: France is highly concentrated (one reactor
operator), the U.S. diversified (23 operators), and China somewhere
in between with three operators. In the long-term, the EDF CEO
estimated that nuclear power could make up for 40 percent of
America's electricity. End summary.
2. (SBU) On February 18, Ambassador Rivkin met with Henri Proglio,
CEO of state-owned Electricite de France. The Ambassador requested
the meeting to discuss EDF's business plan on the eve of Proglio's
roadshow in the U.S. (February 24-26) with stops in New York, Boston,
and Washington/Maryland. In addition to meetings with financiers,
analysts, and the Department of Energy, Proglio will review the
economic and financial terms of the firm's investment in
Constellation Energy. The EDF CEO said his overall objective is to
learn more about potential American partners for the firm's nuclear
energy development strategy. He also intends to bolster EDF
activities in U.S. renewable energy markets and energy asset
management (sectors in which its U.S. subsidiaries "EDF Energies
Nouvelles" and "EDF Trading North America" are specialized).
EDF: A Diversified Service Company
3. (SBU) Driven by the conviction that EDF must do more than power
generation, Proglio wants the firm to be a "diversified service
company". EDF could operate a range of nuclear reactors with
different technologies, he confirmed. To be competitive, EDF should
not be limited to French suppliers and the European Pressurized
Reactor (EPR), he said. After all, "we are not married to Areva",
added Gerald Wolf, EDF Senior VP for International Operations. EDF
recognizes that new customers may want smaller reactors and have
different capacities and regulatory issues, Proglio said.
Coordinator in an International Supply Chain
4. (SBU) Proglio sees EDF's future lying beyond the realm of a
traditional French utility. EDF is a coordinator and player in an
international supply chain, he stressed. EDF operates 58 nuclear
reactors in France, but it runs another 24 in foreign markets,
Proglio noted. Moreover, EDF has projects to build new generation
reactors in the U.S., the U.K., China, and Italy. Looking ahead, it
makes sense to diversify EDF's strategic partnerships from an
industrial policy standpoint, he told us. Although the GOF would
argue otherwise, Proglio is convinced the French nuclear industrial
supply chain lacks the capacity to meet EDF's international business
How Many Operators?
5. (SBU) Turning to nuclear energy development, Proglio recalled
that the French market is highly concentrated with a standardized
pool of reactors and a single operator, EDF. The arrangement has led
to gains in efficiency, economies of scale, common safety practices,
labor training, and social acceptability. Proglio said that the U.S.
should keep this in mind as it pursues a much more diverse civil
nuclear energy market with four competing reactor designs and 23
operators. On the long-term prospects of the U.S. nuclear energy
market, the EDF executive estimated that nuclear power could make up
as much as 40 percent of electric power in the U.S., (up from the
current 20 percent), given the U.S. energy mix.
6. (SBU) Proglio discussed EDF's entry into the Chinese nuclear
generation market. He told the Ambassador that the Chinese decided
to limit the domestic market to three reactor operators. Each
operator will have a clear and specific role and mission. Further,
civil nuclear energy development will be restricted to a few Chinese
provinces. Proglio observed that the advantage of working with the
China Guangdong Nuclear Power Company (CGNPC) was that the decision
making process goes quickly and the Chinese build fast. (Note: last
PARIS 00000227 002.2 OF 002
December, the Chinese authorities approved the creation of an
EDF-CGNPC joint venture which will build and operate two EPR nuclear
reactors in Taishan, with EDF's holding fixed at 30 percent for 50
years. End note.)
Not just about Nuclear
7. (SBU) In the U.S., EDF anticipates expanding services in asset
management, energy optimization, and energy efficiency. EDF's
industrial strategy is not just about nuclear generation, he argued.
The U.S. market offers the EDF Group opportunities for further growth
in other energy markets - hydraulic, thermal, and renewable energies.
(Note: in the last few years, EDF Energies Nouvelles has also
diversified into ocean power and biofuels. End note.)