France delays reduction of nuclear power

The French environment minister Nicolas Hulot says the government is postponing its move to reduce the share of nuclear energy in the country’s power generation mix.

According to Reuters, Hulot says the grid operator RTE warned it risked supply shortages after 2020 and could miss a goal to curb carbon emissions, if it went ahead with the cull of nuclear right away, reducing the share from 75 per cent to 50 per cent.
French minister Nicolas Hulot
“It will be difficult to maintain the target of reducing the share of nuclear to 50 percent by 2025,” Hulot told reporters following a cabinet meeting. He later said in an television interview the government would be working towards a 2030 to 2035 timeframe.

The minister added that in one year the government would provide the guide on which facilities will be set for closure and when.

In 2015, the previous government of Socialist Francois Hollande passed an energy transition law setting out the 50 per cent target by 2025. But Hollande took no concrete steps towards closing any reactors.

Centrist President Emmanuel Macron, elected in May, had promised to keep the target and Hulot, France’s best-known environmentalist, said in July it might have to close up to 17 of its 58 reactors by 2025 to achieve it.

RTE said in its 2017-2035 Electricity Outlook that if France went ahead with plans to simultaneously shut down four 40-year-old nuclear reactors and all its coal-fired plants as planned, there could be risks of power supply shortages.

For this winter, RTE said electricity demand was expected to be stable, although unplanned nuclear reactor outages and a prolonged cold spell could squeeze supply.

State-owned EDF, the world’s biggest operator of nuclear plants, has long said it made no sense to shut down functioning reactors and instead wants to extend the lifespan of its nuclear fleet from 40 to at least 50 years.à‚ 

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