In France, the electricity-generating mix is made up of five essential sources: coal, natural gas, petroleum and other liquid fuels, nuclear power and renewable sources.
Renewable resources are the fastest-growing electricity generation source increasing by 2.9% per year. Hydropower is the predominant renewable source leading the global trend, and it accounted for 62,08% of the renewable energy production in France for 2015.
Interesting Facts About Renewable Energy in France.
Despite having such a considerable percentage of its electrical energy come from hydropower, the French power system is dominated by stable nuclear power generation.
In the 1970s and 80s, the government of France decided to build thirty-four 900 MWe nuclear reactors while the rest of the world was recuperating from two oil crises. The success of these nuclear programs and their subsequent additions removed France from a constant reliance on fossil fuels. As of 2000, France’s nuclear energy represented 75% of its electricity production, meeting national and export needs.
However, nuclear waste is a foreboding partner of nuclear energy. So, diversification became paramount. France got to see a bit of this diversity in their power mix during the coronavirus-related lockdowns by introducing more stable renewable energy sources. In spring, some days would manage up to 35% of total electricity production just from renewables.
The French Ministry of Ecological Transition has said that with support and rapid development, renewable energy sources are becoming more competitive. Prices of solar photovoltaic energy have fallen by 40% within the past five years, while the prices of onshore wind power have fallen to half of that percentage within its range of three years.
Renewable Energy Policies In France
Since the days of heavy dependence on nuclear power, the second-largest economy in the European Union has been focused on a certain form of self-reliance and development. The government has now decided to cut down the usage of nuclear reactors and fill those gaps with renewable energy sources, ensuring a sustainable energy transition for all.
The development of renewable energy was extensively promoted via public support until recently. With the government’s involvement on a larger scale, production costs are expected to fall further, facilitating lower costs for renewable energy generation.
President Emmanuel Macron plans to fall in line with the Paris agreements, Energy Transition for Green Growth and biodiversity laws.
Here are the objectives of EN MARCHE (The Environmental Program):
- Significant reduction of fossil fuels through the closure of coal-based plants in 5 years, ban on shale gas explorations and integration of ecological cost in the price of carbon by a carbon tax increase of up to €100/tCO2 in 2030
- Acceleration of changes towards carbon-free energy production by financing renewable energy, favouring private investments, focusing on research and development and implementing the energy transition law with the objective of 32% RES in 2030
- Introducing a new economic model of recycling
- Supporting the transitions through job creation and protection of biodiversity
The Energy Transition Law (ETL) has its policies entrenched in increasing the use of renewable energy through
- Creating means to possibly allow citizens and local authorities to receive funding for renewable energy projects
- Introduce the widespread use of single permits for wind energy, biogas and hydroelectricity
- Mandate obligatory power purchase prices to finance renewable electricity that is self-generated by private individuals and businesses
- Bring to fruition the objective of financing 1500 Methanation projects in France alone
- Introducing 35 million smart meters (smart grid technology)
Under the ETL, the Multiannual Energy Plan (MEP/PPE) sets a general orientation for the energy policy in France from 2019 to 2023 and 2024 to 2028. This general policy includes projections and plans for renewable electricity, hydropower, onshore wind, offshore wind, photovoltaic solar, methanation (waste and biogas), firewood, marine, geothermal and solar thermal.
Ongoing Renewable Energy Projects In France
The France Energy Ministry, in the first week of April 2020 awarded 1.7 GW of renewable projects to private developers through a national-level auction. The wind turbine is supposed to power 750 MW of that 1.7 GW while different solar technologies will power the rest. Through several procurement rounds, well over 288 projects were approved, potentially supplying 2.6 TWh of electricity every year to the French grid realistically.
According to Platts Renewables Tracker, France has 17 GW of onshore wind and 10 GW of solar capacity already installed and expected to generate up to 34% yearly.
The energy company – Total has received over 135 MW of solar projects from France with its future largest ground-mounted solar plant in Valenciennes with a capacity of 50 MWp. It is the largest project awarded in the call for tenders and Total Quadran’s biggest solar plant to date. It will supply green energy to more than 30,000 people when it comes online in 2022.
The largest PV power plant of the Greater Paris Region with 25 MWp was also tendered to Total. This one will generate green electricity for nearly 17,000 people when it comes on stream by 2022.
The French government hopes to increase the support for renewables by 25% by injecting €6 billion into renewables energy spending in 2021, targeting further diversification of the country’s energy mix, and by 2028 double installed renewable electricity capacity to up to 113 GW. Onshore wind will generate up to 34.7 GW, offshore wind – 6.2 GW, solar – 44 GW and hydropower 26.7 GW.
By 2035, 14 nuclear reactors will be closed; two found in eastern France at Electricite de France SA’s Fessenheim plant have already been shuttered.
Hydroelectricity is currently the primary source of France’s renewable electricity, but wind power is slowly catching up. Projections show wind power will overtake hydroelectricity in France by 2030 with 43,89% of the total energy mix.
France aims to reduce its energy consumption by 14% by 2028 and increase installed RE power generation to 74 GW in 2023. This will bring the net addition within the ten years upheld by MEP/PPE to about 50 MW – 60 MW.
The French government has outlined and streamlined their strategy to a smooth energy transition, along with most of the EU states, setting targets for a better energy generation outlook that will fit their unique economy.