Bloomberg News

French Minister Says Country Needs to Keep Nuclear Reactors

November 09, 2011

(Updates with minister’s comment from second paragraph.)

Nov. 8 (Bloomberg) -- French Energy Minister Eric Besson rejected Socialist presidential candidate Francois Hollande’s suggestion the country should curb reliance on nuclear power as it would raise prices and harm efforts to cut carbon emissions.

“A lowering of our nuclear base would be a serious offense,” he told a power conference in Paris. It would “hurt the country’s energy independence and security of supply.”

France uses nuclear for more than three-quarters of its power needs, the most of any country. Following the Japanese atomic disaster at Fukushima in March, opposition politicians and environmental groups questioned French dependence on 58 reactors owned by state-run Electricite de France SA. Hollande said he favored a cut to 50 percent reliance on nuclear by 2025.

“If we significantly reduce nuclear, we will raise our reliance on fossil fuels, carbon emissions and make France more dependent on imports,” Besson said today at the conference organized by Paris-based Union Francaise de l’Electricite, an industry lobby whose members include EDF and GDF Suez SA.

The group said yesterday curbing nuclear power would cost tens of billions of euros, raise energy prices and add to carbon emissions. Cutting dependence to 20 percent would mean halting all current reactors after 40 years of life and developing about 40 alternative power plants at an additional cost of 112 billion euros ($154 billion), it said. Lowering the ratio to 50 percent would need an extra 60 billion euros of spending, it said.

French elections are scheduled for May next year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tara Patel in Paris at tpatel2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net


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