French President Emmanuel Macron gave a speech on Tuesday in which he announced a raft of new energy policies, including a promise to close the country’s remaining four coal-fired power plants by 2022 and 14 of the country’s 900 MW first-generation nuclear reactors by 2035.
In a speech outlining the country’s “ecological transition,” Macron announced that in addition to confirming the closure of the country’s remaining four coal power plants, France would also begin to close some of its aging nuclear fleet. Specifically, France will close 14 of its first-generation 900 MW nuclear reactors, which were built 40 years ago, and which currently number 34. This will reduce nuclear’s contribution to the energy mix from its current level of 75% to 50% by 2035.
Macron reiterated that he was not planning on enacting a wholesale closure of the country’s nuclear fleet, only that he had been elected on a promise to reduce by 50% the share of nuclear power in the country’s energy mix — a commitment he promised he intended to keep. “I would have liked to be able to do it as early as 2025, as provided for by the Energy Transition Law,” Macron added, “but it turned out, after pragmatic expertise, that this figure brandished as a political totem was in fact unattainable. We therefore decided to maintain this 50% cap, but by postponing the deadline to 2035.”
The country’s two oldest nuclear reactors at Fessenheim will be closed by the summer of 2020, and between four to six reactors will be closed before 2030, with the remainder to be closed by over the next five years.
Macron also promised support for further renewable energy capacity additions over the coming few years, including a promise to triple the amount of onshore wind by 2030 and to increase by five times the country’s solar PV capacity. France will also seek to develop offshore wind, and over the next five years the country will commission the first fleet of turbines off Saint-Nazaire and will launch four new offshore wind tenders.
France is committing €5 billion a year to its new renewable energy plans, funds which will be entirely financed by the country’s controversial fuel tax.