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IBM plans to open a nuclear consultancy center in France to take advantage of the increased competition in a newly-opened European energy market.

Big Blue's Global Center of Excellence for Nuclear Power sits in southern France, near Cadarache, the site of the International Thermonuclear Experimental reactor fusion project.

The center will provide consultation for the design, construction, safety and operations of power plants based on IBM software, hardware and services. The company is eager to vend its expertise to utility companies looking to build new reactors or put older ones back in shape after the EU opened the energy market to all Europeans at the beginning of July. Theoretically, all Europeans are free to get their energy from any company, making a market ripe for competition — and perhaps consulting.

"France possesses world-class expertise in the area of nuclear power," IBM Lead Architect Frederic Bauchot said. "Establishment of the Center enables IBM to utilize not only local IBM talent and experience in nuclear systems design and implementation, but also advanced skills of a leading nuclear power market".

The center will employ 25 nuclear experts, who we're sure are positively glowing with the news. Currently, nuclear energy generates 80 per cent of France's power.

IBM already has its hat in the nuclear consultancy ring, providing services for France's EDF and the Tennessee Valley Authority in the US. Last year, the company acquired MRO Software to produce the IBM Maximo Asset Management Solution which targets nuclear power operators managing IT assets.

The company did not disclose the investment cost for the consultancy center. ®

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