Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Wisconsin companies can help France achieve its targets.
The World Nuclear Association states that France derives about three-fourths of its electricity from nuclear energy through its 58 nuclear reactors operated by Électricité de France (EDF). Government policy calls for reducing this figure to 50% by 2035. France is the world's largest electricity exporter, selling reactor technology, fuel products and services amounting to €3 billion per year, making energy the fourth-largest export sector for France.
France has nearly the lowest cost of electricity in Europe and an extremely low level of carbon dioxide emissions per capita from electricity and hydropower generation. About 17% of France's electricity is from recycled nuclear fuel. Other forms come from hydroelectric power (11.8%), geothermal power (8.6%), wind power (3.8%), biomass/waste (1.2%) and other renewable sources (0.1%).
All but four EDF nuclear power plants (14 reactors) are inland and require fresh water for cooling. Of the 15 inland plants (32 reactors), 11 have cooling towers that use evaporative cooling, while the others use river or lake water directly. With regulatory constraints on the temperature increase in receiving waters, during very hot summers, generation output is limited and there is a great need to find alternative solutions for cooling water.
In 1999, France reaffirmed three main aspects of French energy policy: (1) security of supply, (2) respect for the environment and (3) proper attention to radioactive waste management. In 2005, a law established guidelines for energy policy and security. Central to this was nuclear power, along with specific decisions concerning the European pressurized water reactor. In 2015, an initial prototype unit was built to decide on building a series of about 40 such units. Research policy was also created for developing innovative energy technologies consistent with reducing carbon dioxide emissions and defining the role of renewable energy in the production of electricity, in thermal uses and in transport. This has now become a priority sector for suppliers in this area.
In November 2018, the Energy Transition for Green Growth Bill was passed by the French government. This set a target of 50% for nuclear contribution to electricity supply by 2035, with a nuclear power capacity cap at the present level of 63.2 GWe, meaning that EDF would have to shut at least 1,650 GW of nuclear capacity when its Flamanville 3 EPR starts commercial operation.
The plan states that 14 of the country's nuclear reactors would shut down by 2035. The first reactors to be closed by 2020 are Fessenheim 1 and 2 in eastern France. However, the plan also states that the option to build new nuclear reactors remains. The bill also sets long-term targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 and by 75% by 2050; to cut in half total energy consumption by 2050; to reduce fossil fuel consumption by 30% by 2030; and to increase the share of renewables in total energy consumption to 32% by 2030. This therefore has opened opportunities for engineering companies capable of disposing of nuclear waste material and decommissioning reactors, as well as suppliers renewable energy solutions.