19 June 2014

France to boost renewables, cap nuclear power


France will cap nuclear power and aim for renewable energy to make up 40 percent of its electricity production by 2030 (less than 20 percent now), 38 percent of heat consumption and 15 percent in the transport sector, according to a new energy bill, writes Reuters. France will also boost energy savings. For example, a tax credit will be introduced for renovation work carried out.

A wind farm in France. Photo: Wkimedia Commons

President Francois Hollande, who had pledged to cut atomic energy to 50 percent of French power output by 2025 from the current 75 percent - the highest share in the world - has met stiff resistance from unions and local politicians over any potential plant closures.

Energy Minister Segolene Royal, who unveiled the bill on Wednesday, is keen to avoid a public focus on the nuclear question and ensure a swift adoption in parliament of a law that also contains measures to boost renewable sources and energy savings.

A tax credit worth 30 percent of households' insulation bills will be introduced for renovation work carried out between September 1, 2014 and December 31, 2015.

"It's an opportunity to cut the country's energy bill but also to reduce energy bills for all French people," Royal told a news conference.

Drivers scrapping diesel-powered cars to buy an electric one will be entitled to a bonus of up to EUR10,000 (USD13,500).

Wiping off the books a big chunk of its oil and gas imports is crucial to boost France's diminished competitiveness, given its EUR69 billion (USD94 billion) energy bill amounted to almost all of its trade deficit in 2012.

New targets for renewables, simplified procedures

Royal unveiled new long-term targets, including bringing the share of renewable energy in final energy consumption to 32 percent in 2030, although France looks set to miss its current target of 23 percent by 2020.

France will also aim for renewable energy sources to make up 40 percent of its electricity production by 2030, versus less than 20 percent now, 38 percent of heat consumption and 15 percent in the transport sector.

The growth in renewables has lagged neighbouring countries, with wind power capacity reaching about 8 gigawatts (GW) in 2013, against 33 GW in Germany, due to complex administrative procedures and an uncertain legal framework.

"It's not normal that it takes eight years to build an offshore wind farm in France, and two and a half years in other countries," she said, adding that procedures will be simplified.

Key measures included in the bill

* New long-term targets for renewables; share in final energy consumption to 32 percent in 2030, in electricity production up 40 percent by 2030, 38 percent of heat consumption and 15 percent in the transport sector;
* nuclear power output to be capped at current 63.2 GW;
* no reactor closure, lifespan limit or extension included in law;
* new measures to boost electric cars - replacing a diesel-powered car by electric one bonus of up to EUR10,000 (USD13,500);
* a tax credit worth 30 percent of households' insulation bills for renovation work carried out between September 1, 2014 and December 31, 2015.


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