France

France will drop down to 50% nuclear powered by 2025, Macron’s new ecology minister claims.

Energy Voice 19th May 2017 read more »

Cabinet post gives veteran opponent of nuclear power platform to push for renewables. Mr Hulot, widely known for his nature documentaries, is France’s energy minister, an eye-catching, and for the energy industry potentially disconcerting, appointment in President Emmanuel Macron’s first cabinet. In a government that is resolutely free-market and pro-globalisation, the appointment of the nuclear critic has led investors to question Mr Macron’s commitment to a source of energy that provides about 75 per cent of the country’s electricity and employs about 200,000 people. Shares in EDF, the state-owned nuclear group, which had jumped more than 20 per cent after Mr Macron’s win, propelled by hopes of a supportive policy, lost almost 7 per cent after Mr Hulot was appointed. Analysts suggested Mr Hulot would make the government take a harder line on the sector, pushing EDF to close nuclear power stations and denying permission to extend the life of reactors. In an interview with Liberation newspaper last month, Mr Hulot said EDF needed to move away from nuclear and towards renewable energy: “While elsewhere the energy transition accelerates, EDF gets closer to Areva, overinvests in costly nuclear projects like Hinkley Point [in the UK], and does not invest enough in renewables,” he said. In another interview he said France should have a “medium-term target” of ending the use of nuclear power. Asked by Le Parisien newspaper in March about the possible closure of the Fessenheim nuclear plant, which former President Hollande promised but did not implement, Mr Hulot said a shutdown was important but would have a social cost. “We cannot impose a transition by force. The transition has to be done in an acceptable manner,” he said. One person in the nuclear industry who has worked with Mr Hulot said: “We think that he will be pragmatic about balancing the need to keep France’s strength in nuclear power with a need for more renewable energy as well.”

FT 19th May 2017 read more »

Renew Economy 19th May 2017 read more »

EDF’s shares sunk 7 percent after Nicolas Hulot, a popular environmentalist and TV personality, was named minister for environmental transition, where he will oversee energy policy. Investors were spooked that Hulot’s nomination could mean the state will take a harder line on EDF, maybe by reducing France’s reliance on nuclear energy at a faster pace than planned. While Hulot has criticized the cost of nuclear energy and how you deal with its waste — he prefers wind and solar — he’s realistic about how quickly alternatives can replace the 72 percent of France’s electricity that’s nuclear-generated. More important than the politics is an anticipated ruling from the French atomic safety authority on whether the operational lives of EDF plants can be extended. That report, expected by the end of 2018, will truly determine the pace at which EDF decommissions its reactors. As an example of why timing matters, if EDF were to meet Hollande’s 2025 target, Raymond James analysts reckon it would cut net earnings by 400 million euros — 16 percent of the expected total in 2018 — and raise provisions by 1.5 billion euros. Relaxing a target that no-one thinks can be met anyway will save EDF money. That’s not so different from Macron’s platform, which stresses the need to fight climate change by raising carbon taxes while retreating slowly from nuclear. It’s also worth noting that France’s new prime minister Edouard Philippe spent three years working at reactor-maker Areva SA. He says he’ll be “pragmatic” about France’s energy needs.

Bloomberg 18th May 2017 read more »

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Published: 19 May 2017