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Macron delays reduction of nuclear share by a decade, but announces 45 GW solar target by 2030


Macron delays reduction of nuclear share by a decade, but announces 45 GW solar target by 2030

Although the French president promised that solar capacity will increase fivefold by 2030, France’s new energy strategy will maintain nuclear power at the core of its electricity system. The decommissioning of approximately 20% of France’s nuclear power generation assets, originally set by the country’s energy transition law for 2025, has been delayed to 2035. Macron said, however, that this plan may be reconsidered if more innovation for storage technologies can help mitigate issues related to the intermittence of renewables, and if there can be stronger European integration.

“I was not elected on a nuclear exit program but on a reduction of the nuclear share to 50% of our energy mix.” With this statement made during the presentation of France’s new energy strategy, the “Programmation pluriannuelle de l’énergie” (PPE), French president Emmanuel Macron explained that this target will be reached with the closing of 14 nuclear reactors by 2035, and not by 2025 as originally established by the country’s 2015 energy transition policy.

He also explained that up to six nuclear power plants may be closed by 2030 (including the closure of the Fessenheim plant in 2020), and that the remaining reactors will be shut down by 2035. This time frame may also be reconsidered, Macron stressed, if storage technologies will can maturity and enable better integration of intermittent renewables, and if European integration will be stronger.

The scenario for nuclear power prospected by Macron is quite similar to the mid-scenario unveiled by AFP a week earlier, which means that the worst case scenario, which includes the construction of four new nuclear plants has been avoided, but also that the favorite option of the French renewable energy industry, envisaging the closure of six nuclear power plants by 2028, with another six nuclear reactors being decommissioned by 2035, has also not been taken into consideration.

As for building new nuclear reactors, Macron said he asked state-owned power utility EDF, which owns and operates all of France’s 58 nuclear power plants, to define a ‘new nuclear’ program, making price commitments to make nuclear power more competitive. “Everything must be ready in 2021 so that the choice proposed to the French can be transparent,” he also stated.

Arnaud Gosseement, a well-known lawyer specializing in environmental legislation, said on Twitter that the importance of today’s announcements is relative, as they only provide broad guidelines of a draft energy strategy.The road is still long before a decree: a new law will have to be passed by Parliament,” he stated.

Macron also said that all of the country’s coal power plants will be closed by 2022, and that solar and wind will see their respective share increase fivefold and threefold, without providing further details.

“The scenario proposed by President Macron is quite balanced given the actual social context in France,” Xavier Daval, Chair of SER-SOLER, the solar commission of French renewable energy association SER told pv magazine. “Solar is granted a significant target of 45 GW by 2030. The charge is ours to prove that we can deliver the proposed volume,” he stressed. “I also expect that storage will soon come on board to complete our offering and allow to deliver a sound substitution to conventional energies,” Daval further explained.

Taking into account that France currently has an installed solar capacity of around 8.5 GW, and that another 36.5 GW should now be deployed in France over the next twelve years, it is likely that EDF and Total, which are planning to deploy 30 GW and 10 GW of solar respectively, by 2030, may revise their plans.

Source PV Magazine

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