France prepared to extend life of nuclear reactors: energy minister

French Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy Segolene Royal signs the guest book following her photo opportunity with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at United Nations Headquarters in the Manhattan borough of New York, January 11, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

PARIS (Reuters) - The French government is willing to support a 10-year extension to the life of the country's nuclear reactors, operated by utility EDF, Energy Minister Segolene Royal told France 3 television on Sunday. Nuclear power provides about 75 percent of France's electricity, but the industry has come under the spotlight since the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan and France has pledged to reduce its reliance on nuclear to 50 percent by increasing renewable energy. Asked if she was ready to raise the limit on existing reactors to 50 years from 40 years, Royal said: "Yes, I am ready to give this the green light, depending obviously on the opinion of the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) .... the French people have for years invested a lot in the nuclear reactors." The ASN watchdog has the power to halt nuclear installations at any time if it sees a risk and is the only authority which can allow an extension to the life of the reactors beyond 40 years. State-owned EDF operates 58 nuclear reactors in France. (Reporting by James Regan; Editing by David Goodman)