France says carbon emissions will not increase with planned closure of nuclear reactors

France has emphasised its carbon emission levels will not increase as a result of moving further away from the nuclear industry in the next few years. The French President, Emmanuel Macron has launched an energy policy debate that will extend for this year. Off the back of the policy, a decision will be made in early 2019 to determine what future the nuclear industry will have within energy generation in France. At present, the nuclear sector comprises of nearly three-quarters of the total energy industry in France, but this is due to decrease significantly.

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To support the year-long policy and decision on nuclear power, the grid operator RTE has delivered a series of scenarios for reducing the nuclear share from 56% to 11% by the year 2035 and another scenario to reduce nuclear reliance to 50% by the year 2025.

Environmental supporters have complained that the French Government has withheld scenarios that involve reducing nuclear capacity by the most. The Junior Energy and Environmental Minister, however, told French media that any scenario that would lead to the development of new thermal power plants were held back. The Energy and Environmental Minister highlighted that it was quite clear the Government did not intend to increase carbon emissions and any decision on energy policy would reflect this.
France has claimed it will not develop any more coal-based or oil plants but the Government has suggested whether gas could play a part in the future energy mix which is proven to have lower emissions than other fossil fuels, in particular coal.

The sustainable energy group, NegaWatt recently suggested that the scenarios for France could be achieved if the nation invests further into energy efficiency and existing nuclear reactors have an extended lifespan of just over 40 years. The majority of nuclear plants in France were developed and connected to the grid over 20 years ago by EDF energy. Premature closure of these plants would reduce the capacity significantly causing a need for further gas plants to be built. EDF has suggested extending the life of its reactors to 50 years, but this is yet to be authorised by the nuclear regulator ASN. An official rule on the extension will be determined in 2021.

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