If France is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, it must integrate renewables into its energy mix, according to the head of the country’s energy regulator, RTE, who believes nuclear power alone will not be enough.
As part of its EU targets, France has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2050 and contribute to the bloc’s efforts to cut greenhouse gases by 55% by 2030.
“To achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, nuclear power alone will not be enough,” said Xavier Piechaczyk, Chairman of RTE, on France Inter radio on Saturday.
Instead, France needs to diversify further its energy mix, which is currently 40% nuclear, 28% oil, 16% natural gas, 14% renewables and 2% coal, according to the French Ministry for Ecological Transition.
All the more so as “energy consumption will fall, but electricity consumption will rise to replace fossil fuels”, with a 25% increase in decarbonised electricity, writes RTE in its reference report on the French energy mix in 2050.
As such, Piechaczyk calls for “renewable energies to be brought on stream as quickly as possible, as there will be no new reactors in operation by 2035” to meet the need to decarbonise the energy mix.
France plans to build six new small nuclear reactors (EPR), although these will not be operational until 2035. Construction for the first reactor is only set to start in 2027.
“France is struck by a pathology, which is to spend its time arguing between nuclear versus renewable: it’s not the first question to be asked”, Piechaczyk said.
Piechaczyk referred in particular to the conflict between the radical left and ecologists, who are opposed to nuclear power, and the presidential majority and the right, supported by the Communists, who favour the development of nuclear power.