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In France, social issues a priority in planning transition away from nuclear power

The French experiment – and the shift from nuclear to renewables, REneweconomy, By Craig Morris on 26 May 2017  Energy Transition

France’s new President Emmanuel Macron has appointed his cabinet – to great acclaim. The direction of the country’s energy transition remains unclear, however. ……..

The appointment that has drawn the most attention seems to be the new Minister of Ecology and Solidarity – the new name for the old Ministry of Energy and the Environment headed by Ségolène Royal. The new focus indicates that social issues will be a priority when decisions about the energy transition are made.

The man who will direct the new ministry is Nicolas Hulot, who made a name for himself decades ago with a TV series on the environment …….

It will be interesting to see what “solidarity” means in the energy transition. For instance, concerning the closing of Fessenheim, France’s oldest nuclear plant, Hulot is quoted: “We cannot impose a transition by force. The transition has to be done in an acceptable manner.” This approach is similar to the way Germany is handling its coal phaseout: slowly in order not to detrimentally impact coal communities…..

It thus seems likely that an approach will be taken to pursue an energy transition towards renewables and away from nuclear, but possibly not at the speed that Hollande’s law specified. The slowdown would then be justified with solidarity. If so, this approach seems logical. As I have been saying for years, France has put most of its eggs in the nuclear basket and can hardly afford to shut very many reactors.

It’s not just communities with reactors that will be affected by a nuclear phaseout. Rather, last November EDF – the utility than runs all French reactors – bought up the effectively bankrupt Areva, the firm that built them. Both companies are largely state-owned. In January, the EU approved France’s plans to inject a whopping 4.5 billion euros in Areva to keep it afloat.

Whatever compromises he is forced to make, Hulot will easily bring more expertise to the table than the French have become accustomed to…..


May 27, 2017 - Posted by | France, politics

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