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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.


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