2022-10-06
http://w3.windfair.us/wind-energy/news/40554-france-election-presidency-renewable-energy-onshore-offshore-solar-expansion-energy-transition-nuclear-power-plant-runoff

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France before runoff election

Next Sunday, the runoff election for presidency between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen will take place in France. Not only do the two differ significantly in their attitudes towards Europe, it will also be a directional election for the French energy transition.

Image: PixabayImage: Pixabay

The political positions of the two candidates in the battle for the French presidency could not be more different. While incumbent Emmanuel Macron wants to continue his line on many issues, Marine Le Pen of the far-right Rassemblement National (RN) party intends to radically transform France if she will win the election. Not only would the position of France - Europe's second strongest economic power - vis-à-vis the European Union change, but the impact on the French energy transition would be enormous, too.

In their programs, both candidates continue to rely on nuclear power, which has traditionally been strongly represented in France. Although Macron announced in February that he wants state-owned energy utility EDF to build and operate at least six more reactors and extend the lifespan of older nuclear power plants to more than 50 years, he is backing a strong expansion of renewable energies.

In addition to accelerating this expansion, there's a focus on increasing capacity: solar capacity is to be increased tenfold to over 100 GW by 2050, while offshore wind power is to be expanded to 40 GW by the same year.

While onshore wind power does not play a major role for Macron, if Marine Le Pen has her way, there would soon be no French onshore wind power at all. Existing onshore wind farms are to be dismantled and subsidies for solar and wind energy are to be cut altogether. That's how the treasury is to save 5 billion euros.
Le Pen plans an insane upgrade of nuclear energy: a full 20 EPR reactors are to be built, the operating life of existing plants is to be extended from more than 40 to 60 years, and the Fessenheim power plant, which was shut down in 2020, is to be put back into operation, as Reuters points out.

A picture that would not exist like this with Marine Le Pen: Wind turbines and nuclear power plants side by side (Image: Pixabay).

A "complete aberration," as Macron stressed at a campaign event in Le Havre last week. "We would be the only country in the world to do that," Macron told radio station France Bleu. Le Pen's plan would mean "spending hundreds of millions of euros to dismantle existing wind farms."

Accordingly, the French Renewable Energies Association (SER) is warning French voters not to help Le Pen win the election: "The next five years will be decisive, both for the planet and for our country." Le Pen's program "would represent a major step backwards for our country and the climate, as our greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel imports would rise again at the expense of taxpayers and the poorest consumers. This will lead to the destruction of jobs and the bankruptcy of companies involved in the energy transition. At a time when our neighbors are pushing for expansion, France would isolate itself while Europe counts on France in an effort of collective and multilateral responsibility."

Marc-Antoine Eyl-Mazzega, head of the Center for Energy and Climate at the Institut Francais des Relations Internationales, also warns against Le Pen's electoral victory. Her plans would expose the country to more and more energy shortages over time. "This may please those who don't like the sight of wind turbines," Eyl-Mazzega told msn. "But the electricity supply situation would worsen, and investors will avoid France."

This is a dangerous situation, particularly in light of the war in Ukraine, as energy prices continue to rise and pose major challenges, especially for low-income earners. "The economic and energy policy proposals are out of touch with reality," emphasizes Michel Gioria, general delegate of France Energie Eolienne, France's wind power association. "It will plunge France into a difficult situation in terms of energy supply, which will keep prices high." Especially since the nuclear power plants promised by Le Pen could not come on line before 2035-2040 (exception: Flamanville) because licensing and construction are time-consuming. Valuable years would pass without the energy transition in France moving forward. Time that the earth no longer has.

Let's hope that the French voters will back the right candidate on Sunday.

Author:
Katrin Radtke
Email:
press@windfair.net
Keywords:
France, election, presidency, renewable energy, onshore, offshore, solar, expansion, energy transition, nuclear power plant, runoff



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