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France unveils energy bill to cap nuclear, boost renewables

20 June 2014

The new French energy bill will cap nuclear power production at current levels, according to an announcement by French Energy Minister Segolene Royal on June 18. The new bill also contains a series of measures to boost renewable sources and energy savings.

Flamanville nuclear power station - EDF
Flamanville nuclear power station - EDF

The cap will be set at 63.2 gigawatts (GW), effectively forcing EDF to shut some nuclear capacity if it wants to connect its new Flamanville nuclear power station to the grid in 2016 as planned. This will make the closure of the Fessenheim plant on the German border inevitable.

Apart from Fessenheim, which President Francois Hollande promised during his presidential campaign to close, the fate of other nuclear plants will be passed by decree at a later date.
Hollande pledged to cut nuclear to 50% of French electricity generation by 2025 from the current 75%, the highest proportion in the world.

The bill made no mention of a possible lifespan extension for nuclear reactors, which nuclear regulator ASN is expected to review in 2015, but gave it additional powers to fine companies such as EDF and Areva for safety breaches.

The Government has set targets for renewables at 32% of energy consumption in 2030, despite the unlikelihood of it meeting its current target of 23% by 2020. The country will also aim for renewable energy sources to make up 40% of its electricity production by 2030, against under 20% now.

France has lagged behind its neighbours in developing wind and other low carbon generation, and there are proposals to simplify administrative and legal procedures.

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