Nicolas Hulot

Nuclear power drops to 50 %: Nicolas Hulot swallows a new snake

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That'll be for later. Impossible to keep this commitment: to reduce the share of nuclear power in our electricity consumption to 50 %. Nicolas Hulot is (temporarily) throwing in the towel, convinced that this deadline cannot be met. The energy lobbies had pulled out the big guns and are already rubbing their hands together..
 
Nicolas Hulot estimated on Tuesday 7 November, in the middle of COP 23, that France would not be able to reduce the share of nuclear power in the production of electricity to 50% in 2025 as planned in the energy transition law, referring to the need to set a "realistic date". "It will be difficult to keep to this 2025 timetable unless fossil fuel-based electricity production is revived," said the Minister for Ecological and Solidarity Transition at the end of the Council of Ministers.
 
"The government has very clearly reaffirmed its desire to achieve the 50% target for nuclear power as soon as possible, but obviously without sacrificing or eroding our climate change objectives," he continued.
 
The 2015 law on energy transition plans to reduce the share of nuclear power in French electricity generation from 75% to 50% by 2025, a target that was set after months of bitter debate in Parliament.
 
"If we want to maintain the date of 2025 to bring nuclear power to 50% in the energy mix, it will be to the detriment of our climate objectives. And it will be to the detriment of the closure of coal-fired power plants, and probably if we wanted to stick to this date, we would even have to reopen other thermal power plants," Nicolas Hulot pointed out.
 
This is exactly the argument that RTE, EDF's subsidiary managing the electricity transmission network, maintains. The objective of reducing the share of nuclear power in French electricity generation to 50% by 2025 would be accompanied by a doubling of the sector's CO2 emissions, according to a report published on Tuesday by RTE, which proposes alternative scenarios.
 
While nuclear power accounts for nearly three-quarters of this production, its reduction, as scheduled by the 2015 energy transition law, would imply the closure of 24 reactors out of the 58 in the country and a strong acceleration in the development of renewables, according to the French high-voltage line manager. To ensure the French people's electricity supply, and even if consumption were to fall slightly, it would still be necessary to postpone the closure of coal-fired power plants until after 2025 and to build new gas-fired power plants, which would double the electricity system's CO2 emissions.
 
Blackmail to coal, CO2 and the general cut of electricity: the subsidiary to 100% of EDF announced at the same time Tuesday that unplanned stops of power stations or climatic conditions "out of standards" could weaken the power supply of the French during the winter 2017-2018, a period which it thus places "under surveillance". With risks of power cuts in perspective.
 
The Minister explained that he preferred to take the time to find a "realistic date" for nuclear to go down to 50%. "All of this will take a few months, and based on that we will set a new date," he said.
 
The NGO Climate Action Network expresses its anger at this setback: "The argument that a choice should be made between nuclear power and the climate crisis does not hold up, however, because several existing energy scenarios make it possible to meet the objectives of reducing nuclear power, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, developing renewable energies and energy efficiency at the same time, in particular the official reference scenario for the France and the negaWatt scenario. »
The NGO adds in a press release: "Delaying the disengagement from nuclear power means jeopardizing the development of the future and job-creating sectors such as renewable energies and energy efficiency, and giving way to fossil fuels, which are dangerous for the climate, to make up for the failures of ageing nuclear power, which will inevitably occur, as was the case last winter with its disastrous climatic impact".  
 
For the time being, only the shutdown of the two reactors at the Fessenheim power plant (Upper Rhine) has been recorded.
 
Sources: AFP, Reuters

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