French state-controlled utility EDF has delayed plans to close its ageing 1,840MW Fessenheim nuclear plant located in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in northeastern part of the country.

The decision is expected to impact French President Francois Hollande’s commitment announced earlier to close power production at the 40-year old and France's oldest atomic plant by the end of his five-year tenure, which is scheduled to be completed in May 2017.

Furthermore, EDF board has asked its chairman and chief executive to seek a government decree allowing the firm to operate the Fessenheim plant until a third new reactor is commissioned at the site which is scheduled in 2018.

The third reactor, Flamanville EPR 3, is currently under construction.

EDF chairman and CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy said: "The decision of the Board, taken in application of the law and respecting the company's social interest, enables EDF, fully committed to the energy transition, to have the nuclear fleet necessary to fulfill its obligations to supply its customers.”

EDF said that it would close Fessenheim power plant only if French nuclear output would exceed the legal cap of 63.2GW.

The closure of the Fessenheim plant, which features two 900MW reactors, near the German border is also being opposed by unions, reported Associated Press.

Meanwhile, Greenpeace said that the EDF’s conditions on the power plant are unacceptable.

Greenpeace said in a statement: "In addition to being old and dangerous, Fessenheim's reactor number 2 has been offline for almost a year, since a serious anomaly was detected there. The immediate halt is therefore necessary.”

France Environment Minister Segolene Royal was reported by Reuters saying that Fessenheim shutdown process was inevitable.

Image: The Fessenheim nuclear power plant in France. Photo: courtesy of Florival fr/Wikipedia.