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June, 2015:

United Airlines jet powered by farm waste, animal fats will be long-awaited milestone for biofuels

United Airlines handout On Tuesday, United plans to announce a US$30-million investment in one of the largest producers of aviation biofuels, Fulcrum BioEnergy, the biggest investment so far by a domestic airline in the small but growing field of alternative fuels.

Sometime this summer, a United Airlines flight will take off from Los Angeles International Airport bound for San Francisco using fuel generated from farm waste and oils derived from animal fats.

For passengers, little will be different — the engines will still roar, the seats in economy will still be cramped — but for the airlines and the biofuels industry, the flight will represent a long-awaited milestone: The first time a domestic airline operates regular passenger flights using an alternative jet fuel.

For years, biofuels have been seen as an important part of the solution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And airlines, with their concentration around airports and use of the same kind of fuel, have been seen as a promising customer in a biofuels industry that has struggled to gain traction.

Now that relationship is showing signs of taking off.

On Tuesday, United plans to announce a US$30-million investment in one of the largest producers of aviation biofuels, Fulcrum BioEnergy, the biggest investment so far by a domestic airline in the small but growing field of alternative fuels. (Cathay Pacific, based in Hong Kong, last year announced a smaller investment in Fulcrum.)

The quantities that United is planning to buy from Fulcrum constitute a small drop in its voluminous fuel consumption. Last year, United’s fleet consumed 3.9 billion gallons of fuel, at a cost of US$11.6-billion.

But airlines are increasingly under pressure to reduce carbon emissions. The Obama administration proposed this month that new limits on aviation emissions be developed, and the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations agency, is expected to complete its own negotiations on limiting carbon pollution by February 2016.

“There is a significant role for biofuels within the aviation sector, specifically for reducing carbon emissions,” said Debbie Hammel, a senior resource specialist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, who focuses on biofuel.

Airlines, in turn, say they have every reason to adapt, not only to reduce pollution but also to lower what is usually their biggest cost: jet fuel.



United Airlines handoutFulcrum said its technology can cut an airline’s carbon emissions by 80 percent compared with traditional jet fuel.

Fulcrum, a California-based company, has developed and certified a technology that turns municipal waste — household trash — into sustainable aviation fuel, a kind that can be blended in directly with traditional jet fuels. It is currently building a biofuel refinery in Nevada to open in 2017, and has plans for five more plants around the country.

Fulcrum said its technology can cut an airline’s carbon emissions by 80 percent compared with traditional jet fuel. “There is definitely a huge interest from airlines in this market,” said Angela Foster-Rice, United’s managing director for environmental affairs and sustainability.

United’s deal with Fulcrum is one of many that airlines have made in recent years.

Alaska Airlines aims to use biofuels at least at one of its airports by 2020. Southwest Airlines announced last year that it would purchase about 3 million gallons a year of jet fuel made from wood residues from Red Rock Biofuels. The first blend of this new fuel product, however, won’t be available until 2016.

Last year, British Airways joined with Solena Fuels to build a biofuel refinery near London’s Heathrow Airport, which will be completed by 2017.

United’s deal is the airline’s second major push toward alternative fuels. In 2013, the airline agreed to buy 15 million gallons of biofuels over three years with a California-based producer called AltAir Fuels, which makes biofuels out of nonedible natural oils and agricultural waste. It expects that the first 5 million gallons from AltAir will be delivered this summer at its Los Angeles International Airport hub to help power the flights to San Francisco.

For the first two weeks, four to five flights a day will carry a fuel mixture that is 30 percent biofuel and 70 percent traditional jet fuel; after that, the fuel will be blended into the overall supply, United said.

“The AltAir project serves as a catalyst intended to pave the way for the industry,” Foster-Rice said. By burning biofuel products like farm waste that have already absorbed carbon during their lifetime, jet engines avoid introducing into the atmosphere new carbon from a fossil fuel that has been locked away, underground, for millions of years.

And the airlines seem to have little choice. For example, airlines, unlike automakers, cannot turn to other options like electrification, said Hammel of the Natural Resources Defense Council, which is why it is important, she added, that the fuels be sustainably produced. But despite the airlines’ interest, there are still substantial hurdles to the large-scale development of biofuels – most notably reasonable cost and reliable supplies.

“It remains quite difficult to get biofuels for aviation that is cost-effective, and to make sure the fuels will be available,” Foster-Rice said. The airline conducted its first test flight in 2009, with biofuels from algae.

Then there is the issue of where the biofuels companies get their raw material. E. James Macias, Fulcrum’s chief executive, said that the company had secured 20-year agreements from municipal waste management companies, including Waste Management, to provide stable supplies for the company’s projects.

He said Fulcrum could produce its biofuel for “a lot less than” US$1 a gallon. (United bought its jet fuel for US$2.11 a gallon, on average, in the first quarter, and said its deal with Fulcrum was competitive with the price of traditional jet fuel.)

“We are producing very large volumes at a very good price,” Macias said. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, and neither company disclosed the size of United’s equity stake in Fulcrum.

Behind the deals is pressure on airlines to reduce carbon pollution. Although they account for about 2 percent of global carbon emissions, airlines are one of the fastest-growing sources of carbon pollution around the world.

Separately from the Obama administration’s recent push, commercial airlines have already voluntarily committed to limit the growth of their carbon emissions to 2 percent a year through 2020, then cap emission growth after that. By 2050, the industry hopes to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to half of their 2005 levels, according to the International Air Transport Association. But getting there will not be easy.

“That is why it is important to actually invest, and be willing to take on some of the risk,” Foster-Rice said, “and encourage the companies to really focus on jet fuel at a cost-competitive price.”

US court blocks key pollution change

The US Supreme Court has blocked a key government attempt to limit pollution from the country’s power plants.

In a 5-4 split, the court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency failed to factor in the full financial cost to industry of the changes.

The government introduced new rules to restrict emissions of toxins, including mercury, three years ago.

But several US states and companies challenged the changes, and the issue now returns to the US Court of Appeals.

The government has made several attempts to strengthen the Clean Air Act, but the court said this latest move must include costs as well as health risks.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing on behalf of the majority, said the EPA “must consider cost – including, most importantly, cost of compliance – before deciding whether regulation is appropriate and necessary”.

The new rules began to take effect in April. The EPA said it was disappointed by the court’s decision, but added that many companies have already invested in upgrading operations so that they complied with the latest provision.


The court challenge was brought by industry groups and 21 Republican-led states. The objectors had argued that the cost of installing equipment to remove pollutants would have cost the power industry up to $9.6bn (£6.1bn) a year.

About 600 power plants are affected, most of which burn coal, with many in the South and upper Midwest. Among companies opposing the rule was Peabody Energy, the largest coal producer.

The EPA had argued that the benefits would have been much greater – between $37bn and $90bn annually – due to the prevention of thousands of deaths, illnesses and lost days off work.

Vickie Paton, general counsel of the Environmental Defense Fund, which backed the Obama administration, said the EPA should be able to address the concerns raised by the court because it has “already analysed the economics showing that the health benefits for our nation far outweigh the costs.”

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Singapore co-digests 40 tph food waste with sludge to yield more biogas

Singapore water utility PUB has started the nation’s first project to produce biogas through co-digesting used water sludge and food waste.

In this project, used water sludge from the Ulu Pandan Water Reclamation Plant (WRP) will be mixed with food waste collected from the Clementi district and treated in a co-digestion demonstration facility.

Due to the “higher calorific value in food waste”, this new combined treatment of used water sludge and food waste has the potential to produce more biogas, PUB said in a statement.

The co-digestion plant can treat up to 40 tons of combined food waste and used water sludge. It will adopt the OmnivoreTM process patented by energy company Anaergia, which makes use of anaerobic digestion, a biological process that breaks down organic materials without requiring oxygen to produce biogas.

As part of the project, the National Environment Agency (NEA) will be conducting a district level pilot in Clementi for the collection of source-segregated food waste from various premises – such as educational institutions, hospitals and camps – for co-digestion at the demonstration plant. The demonstration plant is currently under construction and will be completed by September 2015.

If successful, the process could potentially be implemented at the future Tuas Water Reclamation Plant and NEA’s Integrated Waste Management Facility.

This collaboration is a result of an MOU signed during the Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) in 2014, in which both Anaergia and PUB agreed to explore potential research and technological collaboration, particularly in the domain of waste to energy.

Harry Seah, chief technology Officer, PUB, said: “This demonstration plant aims to validate the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of co-digestion implementation in Singapore. It will provide the opportunity for the water reclamation plants to generate more electricity for process usage. This could potentially allow the used water treatment plant to achieve energy self-sufficiency, which is using only as much energy as the treatment process itself generates.”

Andrew Benedek, Anaergia’s chairman and chief executive Officer, said: “There is no better place than Singapore nor a better utility than PUB to work together with to demonstrate Anaergia’s ground-breaking technologies designed to make water reclamation plants energy neutral.”

This project was supported with a co-funding grant from the Technology Pioneer Scheme, administered by the Singapore Economic Development Board on behalf of the Environment and Water Industry Programme Office.

G7 leaders bid ‘Auf Wiedersehen’ to carbon fuels

Leaders of the world’s major industrial democracies resolved on Monday to wean their energy-hungry economies off carbon fuels, marking a major step in the battle against global warming that raises the chances of a U.N. climate deal later this year.

The Group of Seven’s energy pledge capped a successful summit for host Angela Merkel, who revived her credentials as a “climate chancellor” and strengthened Germany’s friendship with the United States at the meeting in a Bavarian resort.

Ties between the Cold War allies have been strained in the last couple of years by spying rows but Merkel appeared to put that behind her on welcoming U.S. President Barack Obama, who declared their countries were “inseparable allies.”

Meeting in the picturesque Schloss Elmau at the foot of Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze, the G7 leaders pressed Greece to accept painful economic reforms to resolve its debt crisis and struck a firm tone on Russia’s role in Ukraine.

They agreed that existing sanctions against Russia would remain in place until Moscow and Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine fully respect a ceasefire negotiated in Minsk in February, and said they could escalate sanctions if needed.

On climate change, the G7 leaders pledged in a communique after their two-day meeting to develop long-term low-carbon strategies and abandon fossil fuels by the end of the century.

“We commit to doing our part to achieve a low-carbon global economy in the long-term, including developing and deploying innovative technologies striving for a transformation of the energy sectors by 2050,” the communique read.

The leaders invited other countries to join them in their drive, saying they would accelerate access to renewable energy in Africa and intensify their support for vulnerable countries’ own efforts to manage climate change.


The summit revitalised Merkel’s green credentials, after concern among diplomats and environmental campaigners that Japan and Canada might torpedo her efforts.

The G7 stopped short of agreeing any immediate collective targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which the Europeans had pressed their partners in the club to embrace. But they said a U.N. climate conference later this year should reach a deal with legal force, including through binding rules, to combat climate change.

Green lobby groups – routinely critical of the advanced economies’ record on climate change – welcomed the thrust of the summit commitments.

“Merkel’s G7 says ‘Auf Wiedersehen’ (farewell) to fossil fuels,” global activist network Avaaz declared in a statement.

“Elmau delivered”, enthused environmental pressure group Greenpeace, adding that “the vision of a 100 percent renewable energy future is starting to take shape.”

The G7 leaders supported a reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions within a range recommended by the United Nations climate change panel, and backed a global target for limiting the rise in average global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) compared with pre-industrial levels.

Their accord helps set up the U.N. Paris conference, at which some 200 countries will try to reach agreement on limiting the rise in global temperatues to 2 degrees Celsius and seal a new worldwide agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions.


The leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and European Union took a firm stance on Russia’s involvement in the Ukraine conflict.

Obama and Merkel both said the G7 countries were ready, if necessary, to strengthen sanctions against Moscow.

The leaders want Russia and Ukraine to comply with a Feb. 12 ceasefire agreed in the Belarus capital Minsk that largely halted fighting in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces.

“Ultimately this is going to be an issue for Mr (President Vladimir) Putin. He’s got to make a decision,” Obama told a news conference at the conclusion of the summit.

“Does he continue to wreck his country’s economy and continue Russia’s isolation in pursuit of a wrong-headed desire to recreate the glories of the Soviet empire, or does he recognise that Russia’s greatness does not depend on violating the territorial integrity and sovereignty of other countries?”

Obama said Russian forces were operating inside Ukraine, something Moscow continues to deny.

In the communique, the leaders said they expected Russia to stop its support for separatist forces in Ukraine and implement the Minsk agreements in full. The sanctions, they said, “can be rolled back when Russia meets these commitments.”

The leaders discussed the Greek debt crisis as a group and also in bilateral meetings. Merkel said Europe was prepared to show solidarity if Athens implemented economic reforms.

Greece’s leftist government last week rejected proposals for a cash-for-reforms deal put forward by European lenders and the International Monetary Fund, but has yet to put forward its own alternative to unlock aid funds that expire at the end of June.

“There isn’t much time left,” Merkel said. “Every day counts now.”

Merkel convinces Canada and Japan on CO2

Germany browbeats Canada and Japan into joining broad G7 pledge to cut emissions.


It was a long, hard slog for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but in the end the woman once dubbed the “climate chancellor” for her personal commitment to combating global warming pulled fellow G7 leaders to her side and triumphed over those resistant to putting an expiry date on fossil fuels.

Backed by French President François Hollande, U.S. President Barack Obama and EU leaders, the host of the summit in Schloss Elmau succeeded in putting tough, tangible commitments into the communiqué that the group agreed to Monday afternoon. That includes the crucial promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 70 percent by 2050, compared to 2010 levels, and to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels.

The result was a round of applause from climate experts and campaigners.

“Merkel didn’t have to, but she really went all in in putting climate change at the top of the agenda,” said Daniel Boese, a media campaigner for the German civic group Avaaz.

It was not easy for the German leader, added Jennifer Morgan, global director of the climate change program at the World Resources Institute. “She’s been quite determined despite the discussions not being easy and in fact in one forum Merkel has described it as the most challenging issue she deals with.”

Germany has become the big economy most dedicated to shifting away from fossil fuels, although coal is still an important part of the mix. A 2011 decision to shutter its nuclear plants has led to surge in power generated by wind, solar and other renewables; last year they accounted for almost a third of Germany’s electricity production. The transition, called Energiewende, has become much more than an energy project, turning into a social revolution with broad political support.

Backed by the German public, and boosted by her own deep knowledge of climate change (Merkel is a trained chemist), her long and steady push is now being lauded for bringing other G7 leaders on board, and eventually forcing the two primary opponents, Japan and Canada, to back down, sources in Elmau told POLITICO.

Japan, in particular, had entered the negotiations with a three stage strategy: “Delay, decline, block,” said an advocacy group source. Canada started to backtrack when it realized the U.S. had little interest in supporting its insistence that the G7 was not the venue to promote an ambitious global warming agenda, others said.

“At the end of the day, Japan realized it was alone in opposing any commitment to climate change, and the Canadians, I hear, were quite quiet in the end, probably because they didn’t want to separate themselves too much from the U.S.,” said Lutz Weischer, the team leader for international climate policy at the NGO Germanwatch.

The detractors

Japan’s resistance to ambitious climate change commitments stems from its shift to using coal to generate electricity after the Fukushima meltdown in 2011. Tokyo also exports coal-fired power plants.

The country, which does not have any of its own fossil fuel reserves, switched off its last of its 48 nuclear reactors in September 2013. It has since been generating the majority of its electricity with imports of oil, coal and gas. The three fuels accounted for 87 percent of the mix in 2013 (while nuclear contributed 1 percent), up from 61 percent in 2010. Hefty fuel import bills helped push the economy into an unexpected recession last year.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has sought to lessen the blow from climate change policies by benchmarking Japan’s planned emissions reduction target of 26 percent by 2030 to 2013 levels, when pollution from fossil fuels reached their peak. Japan has also balked at halting exports of coal technology, saying it offers a cleaner way burning the fuel and therefore qualifies for financing from its climate fund.

But as Sunday’s negotiations among government representatives (known as “sherpas”) spilled into early Monday morning, the Japanese camp started to buckle.

“The option was that either the sherpas would solve it, or it would have to go to leaders, and I think the thought of Abe having to explain why he disagreed with the world’s leading climate scientists, in front of Merkel, Hollande and Obama, was not a position they wanted to put their leader in,” said Weischer.

While Japan succeeded in softening some of the overall language, it was unable to keep out a call to increase the availability of insurance for negative effects from climate change in low and middle-income countries, according to a source in Elmau.

Canada has been similarly wary of calling for an end to fossil fuels because, even though a large amount of its electricity comes from hydropower, it also has large and lucrative oil and gas reserves.

The country stepped away from the Kyoto Protocol of 1990 in 2011 when it realized its emissions had actually gone up, according to a Greenpeace report. Its planned commitment for the December global climate summit in Paris has also been criticized as the least ambitious of all G7 countries, at 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Stephen Harper, the Canadian prime minister, has long defended fossil fuels. “We should not fool ourselves. Nobody is going to start to shut down their industries or turn off the lights. We have to find a way to lower carbon emitting energy,” he said after the summit.

The champions

For Hollande, the pressure is on to make sure the Paris summit is a success, unlike the COP15 meeting in Copenhagen in 2009, which is widely remembered as a failure for setting low targets and a weak outline for climate action.

For Merkel, beefing up commitments from Germany and others has been a long-running pursuit. With her training in science, she is adept at keeping abreast of the technical details and keeping in contact with German and international NGOs.

“Copenhagen was a disaster for her personally and she really was shocked by the result,” said a German NGO source who has worked on the issue with Merkel and her team throughout her chancellorship. That experience led Merkel to set up an annual climate change conference, the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, which she used to prepare patiently for a fresh opportunity on the global stage — this week’s summit.

Her government has set a target of phasing out nuclear power by 2022 and replacing it with renewable sources which, as of last year, accounted for almost a third of the country’s electricity supply, outpacing coal.

That said, there are also questions about Germany’s ability to meet its own targets, according to the energy analysis group Agora Energiewende. Germany’s exports of coal-fired electricity to neighboring countries are crowding out cleaner gas-fired power, and will continue to do so as their power systems become more interconnected. Germany and 11 neighbors signed an agreement Monday in Luxembourg to improve their connections by setting common rules, including not to interfere with prices.

Hong Kong’s CLP, HK Electric could be victims of Norwegian fund sell-off

Power companies CLP and HK Electric could be the innocent victims of a decision by Norway’s parliament to sell off coal investments in the country’s US$880 billion sovereign wealth fund.

According to new rules approved by the Norwegian parliament’s finance committee on Friday, the Government Pension Fund Global – also known as the oil fund because of its funding from oil and gas production – will sell stakes in companies that get at least 30 per cent of their revenue from coal mining or burning fossil fuels or ongoing projects that surpass the 30 per cent threshold.

The measures are to be implemented by January 1, 2016.

The move was welcomed by the country’s lawmakers and environmental groups who estimate the fund’s investments in coal could be more than US$11 billion. It was not immediately known how much of these investments would be affected.

Climate change is one of three themes that Norges Bank Investment Management, which manages the pension fund’s assets, adopts in its investment outlook.

“Coal is by far the biggest source of greenhouse gases, so this is a big victory for the climate,” said committee member Torstein Tvedt Solberg of the opposition Labour party.

The fund has divested from 114 companies in the past three years, including 14 companies in the coal mining sector last year. The fund’s coal mining assets totalled 493 million kroner (HK$486 million) at the end of the first quarter, down from 805 million in December, according to its first-quarter report.

Environmental group Greenpeace expects four companies in Hong Kong and 12 mainland firms to be among 122 enterprises the Norwegian fund might sell its stakes in, potentially raising a combined HK$3.72 billion for the oil fund.

The impact from selling its coal-related investments in Chinese companies should be minimal to Hong Kong’s stock market, given the relatively small stakes involved. The fund’s holdings in Chinese stocks represents a paltry 1.86 per cent of April’s average daily turnover of HK$200 billion.

According to the non-governmental organisation’s estimate, the fund owns CLP shares worth about HK$1.4 billion. Its coal-fired plants represent 66 per cent of its overall power generating capacity.

The fund owns HK Electric shares worth HK$16 million. Its coal-fired plants account for 67 per cent of generation capacity.

Among the 12 mainland companies, the largest investments are in state-owned power producer China Resources Power Holdings and coal miner Shenhua Energy Group.

Coal costs Turkey €3.6 billion a year

AcidNews June 2015

A new study shows that the public heath costs of polluted air from existing coal-fired power plants in Turkey are up to €3.6 billion per year. A cost that will increase significantly over the next four years, if existing plans to double coal power capacity with another 80 plants are implemented.

Coal power generation makes a considerable contribution to the country’s already huge air pollution problem. More than 97% of the urban population in Turkey is exposed to unhealthy levels of particulate matter, which is the most harmful pollutant for health.

Medical experts in Turkey advocate a change in energy policies to reverse investment into coal. Dr. Bayazıt İlhan, President of the Central Council of Turkish Medical Association, says: “A large coal-fired power plant emits several thousand tons of hazardous air pollutants every year and has an average lifetime of at least 40 years. The plans for a massive increase in investment would mean that coal’s contribution to respiratory and cardiovascular disease would continue for decades. This unhealthy future has to be avoided. We would like to see the Turkish government detaching itself from this polluted and outmoded source of energy.”

Source: HEAL press release, 20 May 2015.

The entire report “The unpaid health bill, How coal power plants in Turkey make us sick” is available at

Biogas solutions for methane abatement

AcidNews June 2015

Four Nordic projects for anaerobic digestion of manure show the potential for this methane abatement technique under varying conditions.

The Nordic Council of Ministers has published a report entitled “Nordic initiatives to abate methane emissions – A catalogue of best practices”. Five of the fourteen case studies are in the farming sector. Four of them are biogas projects.

Table: Comparison of the four projects.

Table: Comparison of the four projects.

Måbjerg Bioenergy plant in Denmark is one of the largest biogas facilities in the world. More than 140 suppliers provide the plant with manure slurry. Some of it is transported by pipeline, but most of the slurry gets there by road.

The biogas plant provides one heating plant and one central heating plant with gas that meets the heating needs of 5,000 homes and supplies 12,000–12,500 homes with electricity.

Lövsta is a medium-scale biogas plant run by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. It is fed with a manure mix from cattle, pig and poultry, as well as potatoes from a local farm and waste flour from a mill. The biogas it produces is used for electricity production and heating.

The cost of methane abatement is basically the same for Lövsta and Måbjerg, although the scale of production differs by a factor of ten.

The third plant, Brålanda, is actually a network of several plants connected to a network and a single refining facility. The capacity is quite similar to Lövsta. The refining of biogas allows it to be used as a vehicle fuel. The methane abatement cost is only slightly higher than for the previous two plants.

Most biogas plants that digest manure are designed for processing slurry (liquid manure). However in Sweden and in many other European countries, solid manure systems are still common in farming.

Sötåsen is a full-scale trial plant for digesting solid horse manure together with cattle slurry. The results showed that the plant was more efficient than when run on cattle slurry alone. Using straw as a bedding material gave a higher methane yield, but sawdust and granulated straw caused fewer technical problems in the system. The cost of methane abatement is about three times as high as for the other, larger, biogas projects in the report, but still less than half that of some similar-sized slurry only projects.

These four case studies show that there is potential for producing biogas from manure under varying conditions, when it comes to scale, substrate and topography.

Kajsa Lindqvist

Read about other methane abatement techniques in the full report: “Nordic initiatives to abate methane emissions – A catalogue of best practices”:

France: 100% renewables as cheap as 50% nuclear

AcidNews June 2015

The findings of a new report show that renewables can entirely cover French electricity needs by 2050 instead of a mix of nuclear, renewables and fossil fuels, which currently is the government plan.

A report by the French Environment and Energy Agency (Ademe), aided by the General Directorate for Energy and Climate, has concluded that supplying the nation’s electricity demand with renewables by 2050 would cost about the same as the plan currently favoured by the president and the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, which is to meet France’s power needs with 50 per cent nuclear, 40 per cent renewables and 10 per cent fossil fuels by 2050.

The potential for electricity generation from renewables in France by 2050 (1,268 TWh a year) is triple the nation’s projected electricity demand over that period (422 TWh). Reaching this goal would require demand management that lowers consumption by 14 per cent, despite a projected population increase of six million. A diversity of sources would be required to achieve a 100 per cent renewable electricity mix. The study projects a mix of 63 per cent offshore and onshore wind, 17 per cent solar, 13 per cent hydro, and 7 per cent thermal energy (including geothermal). The regions with the best renewable development potential are Aquitane, Brittany, MidiPyrénées, the Pays de la Loire, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, and Rhône-Alpes. The report assumes that pre-tax consumer electricity costs will rise about 30 per cent by mid-century.

Between 2019 and 2025, almost half of France’s 58 nuclear reactors will reach the 40-year lifespan for which they were designed. They will then need to apply for a licence extension, which requires upgrading to new technology, or will have to be decommissioned. Both options are costly.