France’s energy future, to be decided by a national debate starting tomorrow, will require “considerable” extra investment in the coming years, according to Environment and Energy Minister Delphine Batho.
The government-led debate stems from a pledge by President Francois Hollande to cut the country’s reliance on nuclear power. Electricite de France SA’s 58 atomic reactors currently provide more than three-quarters of electricity, a proportion Hollande vowed to reduce to 50 percent by around 2025.
“Whatever the outcome, we will have to surmount a peak in investment,” Batho told a power producers’ conference in Paris today. The debate will take about six months and lead to a law she has said will provide a roadmap for France’s power production in the coming decades.
“The energy world needs planning,” Batho said. “There is nothing to fear from this debate and everything to gain.”
Hollande decided in September to shut EDF’s oldest reactor at Fessenheim in 2016 as well as maintaining a ban on hydraulic fracturing, the technique used to produce oil and gas from shale rock. Other decisions on energy have been pushed back until after the national consultation.
The debate’s outcome may determine how long EDF is allowed to operate existing reactors and whether it will have to shut more by the end of the decade. While Batho didn’t provide clues on nuclear reactors, she said France should develop more renewable energy and ensure that its carbon emissions don’t increase because of possible changes in its energy mix.
“Whatever direction is chosen at the end, we will need lots and lots of capital,” Laurence Parisot, head of the employers’ organization Medef, told the conference today. “We will be taking decisions that could impact us for the next 30 years.”
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