French state-owned nuclear energy group Areva has set up a joint venture company with Tokyo, Japan-based Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The newly-created company, Atmea, will be based in Paris, France and will develop, market, license and sell a new nuclear reactor that will be created by the two firms.

The new third-generation nuclear reactor, known as Atmean 1, will be a pressurized water reactor that will have the capacity to generate 1,100MW of electricity. Areva and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) have been collaborating on this technology since October 2006, and it will combine both firms’ proven nuclear technologies.

Areva and MHI are jointly working to have the Atmea 1 reactor ready for licensing application in less than three years, in order to address the needs of the fast-growing nuclear market. The companies believe that their respective manufacturing facilities in Japan and France will guarantee high manufacturing reliability throughout the entire Atmea 1 project.

Anne Lauvergeon, CEO of Areva, said: By founding Atmea, we combine the experience of two leaders in reactor development, construction, licensing and marketing. We thus provide the ideal framework for the development and sale of a reactor whose size fits into almost every grid.

Kazuo Tsukuda, president of MHI, added: By bringing together the state-of-the-art technologies of both companies, we are confident that Atmea 1 will be the leading plant in the mid-size reactor range, and will be successful in attracting interest from our clients.

Meanwhile, according to Platts, a review of Areva’s ownership structure is currently underway in France. The publication reported that French president Nicolas Sarkozy and Ms Lauvergeon have separately voiced their belief that the firm needs to gain new resources in order to develop, with Ms Lauvergeon adding that a new ownership structure may be the best way to facilitate this.