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France’s nuclear shares plunge as environmentalist Nicolas Hulot appointed as Environment and Energy Minister

Reuters 17th May 2017 Green activist Nicolas Hulot was appointed as the minister responsible for environment and energy in the new French government on Wednesday, sending the share price of nuclear utility EDF down as much as seven percent.

EDF shares had rallied strongly since the election of centrist Emmanuel Macron as president on May 7 as investors expected a pro-nuclear energy policy from the new government. But the appointment of Hulot – France’s best-known
environmental campaigner and a former television documentary maker – as ecology minister raised doubts in investors’ minds about the strength of that commitment.

Hulot is not known specifically as an anti-nuclear campaigner but has been critical of nuclear energy and of EDF’s strong
focus on nuclear, which accounts for 75 percent of France’s electricity generation. The world’s biggest operator of nuclear plants, EDF has a 18 billion pound ($23.3 billion) project to build two nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point, Britain and needs to spend 50 billion euro ($55.7 billion) on upgrading its ageing French nuclear plants.  The planned takeover of Areva’s nuclear reactor unit will also cost several billions.

In an interview with Liberation newspaper last month, Hulot said one of France’s main challenges will be to reposition EDF on a path that is compatible with a transition from dependence on nuclear power towards the use of more

“While elsewhere the energy transition accelerates, EDF gets closer to Areva, overinvests in costly nuclear projects like Hinkley Point, and does not invest enough in renewables,” he told the paper. Asked by Le Parisien newspaper in March whether France should stop using nuclear energy, he said: “That is a medium-term target”. “As renewable energy
becomes more and more competitive, the nuclear industry business model belongs to the past,” he said.


May 19, 2017 - Posted by | France, politics

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