EDF nuclear chief says 100 per cent renewables by 2050 ‘unrealistic’

A recent study by French state energy agency ADEME, which claimed France could switch to 100 per cent renewables by 2050 has been dismissed by one of EDF’s top nuclear executives, who also referred to Germany’s case as something of a cautionary tale.

EDF Group Senior Executive Vice President, Nuclear and Thermal, Dominique Miniere told reporters in Paris, “A certain number of points in that study are not based on technological realities.”
Dominique Miniere
“We do not believe in a 100 percent renewables mix by the horizon (ADEME) indicates. However, we want to extend the lifespan of our reactors in order to allow a gradual increase of renewables in the mix.”

Reuters reports Energy Minister Segolene Royal delayed publication of the controversial study until after parliament voted last summer for the energy transition law, which pledged more support for renewables but maintained reliance on the atom for about three quarters of French electricity.

Miniere pointed to the German example by way of explaining the downside of replacing nuclear with renewables too quickly, which has led France‘s neigbours to increase dependency on coal-fired power.

He said Germany’s 80 GW installed renewable energy capacity is about 1.3 times installed French nuclear capacity, but produces three to four times less power per year because solar and wind operate only about 15 per cent of the time compared to about 80 percent for nuclear.

Miniere also pointed out that in 2010 French power production emitted 10 times less carbon than Germany’s, but that as Germany has switched on more coal and lignite plants to compensate for closed nuclear reactors, France now emits 30 times less carbon.

David Hess, Press Officer at the World Nuclear Association added to the EDF executive’s comments, saying, “While it is great to have a balanced mix of renewable and nuclear energy sources, this is no reason to prematurely close reliable nuclear assets. If a nuclear power plant continues to provide valuable economic, environmental and system benefits why would you close it down?”

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