Why is France so far behind in renewable energy?

France is the only country in the European Union that has missed its 2020 renewable energy targets. This represented only 19.1% of final energy consumption, while France had committed to reach 23%.

As a result, the state will have to pay about half a billion euros by buying the share of renewable energy that is missing from good students in the EU to compensate for this insufficient development. “We are negotiating with Italy and Sweden on this issue”Energy Transition Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher said before the Assembly on November 21.

Also read: Renewable energies. Why is the development of agrovoltaism not unanimous?

Atomic kingdom

But “The goals were more or less ambitious depending on the country” nuance Damien Salel, expert in photovoltaics and grids, member of the Hespul association, specialized in the development of renewable energies. “There are countries like Hungary that have very little ambitions [qui avait un objectif de 13 %] »,

The fact is that France did not reach him. Why? Damien Salel points to the lack of diversification of France’s electricity mix, which is essentially based on nuclear power. “Our nuclear fleet will not last forever and therefore we need to invest massively in renewables to plan for future decommissioning.”

The development of nuclear power in France came with the Messmer plan, launched in response to the 1973 oil shock. “First of all, the goal was to gain independence and energy sovereignty”Phuc-Vinh Nguyen, a researcher on European and French energy policies at the Center for Energy at the Jacques Delors Institute, recalls. “At the time, the goal wasn’t to decarbonize electricity, it was almost the icing on the cake.” According to him, nuclear power has not forced France to really think about a policy of decarbonizing electricity. “ “France has rejected investments that could be divided politically by electoral logic, and partially relied on nuclear energy.”

Very French opposition

However, the lack of nuclear power in some of our European neighbors has prompted countries to turn to renewable energy earlier. “They made this change quite quickly compared to France, so there is more acculturation to renewable energies by the population and citizens of the other Member States, because they have been doing it for a longer time and therefore have less resources. few, Phuc-Vinh Nguyen explains.

On the contrary, Wind farms, considered unsightly, likely to devalue real estate prices, and intermittently (they operate when the wind blows) inefficient, have systematically sparked protests in France.

“Today, it takes 7-9 years to develop a wind project in France. It takes two to three years in Germany.” Andreas Rüdinger, coordinator of the energy transition in France of IDDRI of the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations, reports. Relying on the nucleus, he argued, created the rules “extremely inconvenient” renewable.

“In France, onshore wind farms are appropriated as a facility classified for environmental protection, that is, they are treated in terms of environmental requirements like a chemical plant. Symbolically it means a lot. It is truly French.”he explains.

Damien Salel also points to the opposition of nuclear and heritage advocates to renewables. “We have a systematic opposition, experiments by all possible and inconceivable means” he grumbles. “Despite the circulars on the acceleration of renewable energies, the prefects continue to block wind projects that are clean of all resources and therefore feasible”.

A request The world particularly noted the almost systematic appeals to administrative justice by the Federation for a Sustainable Environment (FED), the main anti-wind union in France, among others.

Political changes

Pressure from opponents of wind power has prompted Emmanuel Macron to back off his goals on the issue. In 2018, the president announced that onshore wind power generation would triple by 2030, and that of photovoltaics would increase five-fold. In 2022, it pushed back its targets to 2050, betting on offshore wind power as it restarted. nuclear industry.

“We had a kind of golden age when we started doing a lot of related wind projects. But in recent years, a very strong slowdown has been observed. The connection of the first wind farms to the sea cannot compensate for the breakdown of connections with onshore wind energy. Comment by Damien Salel.

Although France has the second largest European wind resource after the UK, its comparable neighbors are ahead. Wind energy accounted for 23% of electricity production in Germany in 2021, and 7.8% in France.

“Part of the political class has taken the topic of wind turbines and turned it into a political marker”Phuc-Vinh Nguyen, who points out that wind power is polarizing the debate, explains to the point of inviting himself between rounds between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. “The topic was energy, and they talked about wind turbines, a subtopic of the electricity subcategory. This shows the stability it represents for a certain section of the political class. »

Photovoltaics, a sector struggling to reinvent itself

France is not ahead in photovoltaics either. Its solar park capacity reached 15.2 GW at the end of the second quarter of 2022, and its production represents 3.8% of France’s electricity consumption. His goals? The Multiannual Energy Program (PPE) projects 20.1 GW in 2023 and a range between 35.1 and 44 GW in 2028.

Damien Salel laments the impact of the 2010 moratorium on photovoltaics. “It killed the sector with less than 10,000 of its 30,000 workers in a few years”, he reports. Prior to this moratorium, the government had set a high purchase price to encourage the development of the photovoltaic sector. This state support to the sector created morale and forced the state to end its support system. “At that time, the purchase price was very high and it created a speculative bubble. And the only way the state has found to break this bubble is to stop photovoltaic projects. Decoding Damien Salel. “The sector has had to rebuild itself for ten years.”

Bill under consideration

In order to speed up the issue, the deputies reviewed the draft law on the acceleration of renewable energy sources, which is scheduled to be voted on in the Milli Majlis on January 10. However, experts regret the shortcomings of the text.

“The bill on the acceleration of renewable energies basically does not include onshore wind energy. There is no article that explicitly aims to make things easier for onshore wind energy, on the contrary, the vast majority of the amendments aim to impose new barriers to wind energy, which in fact reflects the immaturity of France’s discussions on these issues.”comments by Andreas Rüdinger.

According to the latest estimates of the Commission for Energy Regulation (CRE), the renewable energy sector will bring 30.9 billion euros to the state in 2022-2023, including 21.7 billion euros from the wind energy sector, 3.5 billion euros. 1.7 billion from the photovoltaic sector or even the hydraulic sector.

“However, we act as if this sector is useless, does not create jobs and costs the state money” Andreas Rüdinger, who regretted the discussions, notes “sterile” and calls out “ideological conflict” between nuclear and renewable energy.

“Any new nuclear reactor project we decide today will not see the light of day before 2035 at best, EDF will not see the light of day until 2037 at the most. So we have fifteen years ahead of us, and even if we launch a new one in that time, we have to do something else. nuclear parks. That’s why we need to invest massively in renewable energy sources, regardless of the decisions made about nuclear power.” press

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *