Renewables take a back seat to nuclear in France’s new energy bill

A new energy bill put forward by France’s Ministry of Energy Transition has been criticised for favouring investment in the nation’s nuclear industry while omitting similar targets for renewable sources.

France currently derives about 70% of its electricity from nuclear energy. The country houses 56 reactors and one new station is currently under construction. These nuclear power stations generate enough energy to make France the largest net exporter of electricity in the world, which brings in more than €3 billion each year. 

This substantial income is certainly nothing to scoff at, but neither is France’s promise to be carbon neutral by the year 2050, something many argue will only be achieved through the better integration of renewable energy sources into the national energy network.  


The proposed text highlights “the sustainable choice of using nuclear energy as a competitive and carbon-free” source of electricity. It also affirms the intention to build at least six, but as many as 14, new reactors in the coming years in order to pull off the transition away from fossil fuels and meet climate change goals despite the findings of numerous studies that state France will need to give more weight to renewable sources of energy production if it is to achieve its carbon neutrality ambitions.  

Another contentious aspect of the bill is that no such targets for improving France’s renewable energy capacities are included, whereas previous energy laws did. Instead, the bill makes talk of “efforts” rather than specific objectives. 

Opposers to the new energy bill say the government is backtracking on its green energy pledges made in recent years in favour of ensuring the “energy sovereignty” of the nation through nuclear means.  

The ministry has denied the criticisms, saying, “It is false to say that there is no renewable objective.” However, no additional explanation on what that objective is, in the context of France’s energy plans going forward, has been provided. 


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Photo source: Jametlene Reskp, Unsplash