The French Disconnection – Reducing the nuclear share in France’s energy mix

France is debating its energy transition, triggered by President Hollande’s pledge to reduce nuclear power’s dominant share in the country’s electricity mix. The debate has yet to produce a new energy law, but has shaken French complacency that they completed their energy transition years ago by decarbonising their electricity through nuclear power. It has also raised the question of the long term future and replacement of France’s 58 reactors. This paper argues against early closure of reactors, but also against maximum prolongation of the life of all these 58 reactors which would face France with an impossible rebuilding challenge in the future. The paper shows that the marriage of nuclear and renewables is not impossible, and contends France has little to fear from a more ambitious renewable energy programme.

By: David Buchan

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