Could France, the world’s nuclear leader, be considering a transition away from nukes? Judging from a few recent pieces of news coming out of the country, it’s a distinct possibility.
Earlier this month, the French Parliament voted to ban fracking, a controversial drilling method that has enabled a global boom in natural gas. Now, the country is turning its attention to offshore wind – opening up a bidding program for five marine zones that could host up to 3 GW of projects. The first round of bidding is part of an effort to build 6 GW of projects from 2015 through 2020.
These two developments come as officials in the country are openly considering a long-term energy plan that would phase out nuclear power over the coming decades. Considering that France gets around 75% of its electricity from nuclear – the highest penetration in the world – this announcement, as reported by Reuters, is significant:
Energy Minister Eric Besson announced on radio Europe 1 the launch of a study on Friday on the country’s energy mix by 2050, with options including a complete exit from nuclear production, a cut in the share of nuclear to 50 percent and a progressive reduction of total electricity production in France. “We will study all possible scenarios for what we call the energy mix,” he said. “It will be done with total objectivity, in full transparency, without avoiding any scenario (…) including the scenarios of a nuclear exit.”