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April 12, 2015
By: Diane Moss, Renewables 100 Policy Institute

France 100% Renewable Electricity by 2050?

Nuclear power plants in France, Wikipedia

Protest against ITER in France, 2009. Photo credit: Yann (talk), Creative Commons

Saint Charles International Market Place has the largest building-integrated solar power plant in the world with 68,000m2 of roofing composed of 97,000 photovoltaic panels producing 11 MWh per year (with a maximum of 8.8 peak MW). This was inaugurated and commissioned on October 13, 2011. Photo credit: St charles com, via Wikimedia Commons

French Federal Government Report: 100% Renewable Electricity by 2050 in France Would Not Cost More than 50% Nuclear

The following is a brief summary of a piece that appeared in France's center-left newspaper Le Monde, which reported on a piece published by Mediapart:

A report written by the French Environment and Energy Agency (Ademe) has concluded that supplying the nation's electricity demand with renewables by 2050 would cost about the same as the plan currently favored by President and the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, which is to meet France's power needs with 50% nuclear, 40% renewables, and 10% fossil fuel by 2050.

Ademe was reportedly to have shared the document with the public on April 14-15, but postponed it was not ready. However, a copy of the report was obtained by the French media and released to to the public, with the aim of raising the debate on French energy policy.

The 120 page report was written with the contribution of the General Direction of energy and climate, which functions under the French Minister of Ecology, and with "an objective of robustness and scientific solidity, the hypotheses and results were vetted by a scientific committee of national and international experts."

Other highlights from the report, include:

- The potential for electricity generation by renewables in France by 2050 (1268 TWh a year) is triple the nation's projected electricity demand for that time (422 TWh). Reaching this goal would require demand management that lowers consumption by 14%, despite a projected population increase of 6 million inhabitants.

- Achieving a 100% renewable electricity mix will require diversity of sources. The study projects a mix of 63% offshore and onshore wind, 17% solar, 13% hydro, and 7% thermal energy (including geothermal). The regions with the strongest renewable development potential are the Aquitane, Brittany, Midi-Pyrénées, the Pays de la Loire, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, and Rhône-Alpes.

- The report assumes that pre-tax consumer electricity costs will rise about 30% by mid century whether France opts for a 100% renewable power mix, or a combination of 50% nuclear power, 40% renewables, and 10% fossil fuel (primarily gas).

- Between 2019 and 2025, almost half of France's 58 nuclear reactors will reach the 40 year lifespan for which they were designed. Even if they are granted a license extension, they must be replaced by newer technology that has continually been rising in price. Decommissioning of the reactors also adds to costs.




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