In the port of Saint Nazaire on the Atlantic coast, France’s first floating wind turbine is being readied for a trip out into deep water, where it will form part of France’s push into renewable energy. “In France we have some of the best wind resources in Europe. It’s the equivalent of two nuclear power plants on the Mediterranean coast and Brittany is the same,” claims Paul de la Guérivière, chief executive of Ideol, which is launching the giant turbine next year. But France’s love affair with nuclear will be hard to break. Back in Paris, another idea is being floated, and this could prove just as important for the transition from nuclear energy, which provides more than 70 per cent of the country’s power compared with close to 18 per cent from renewable sources. When Emmanuel Macron was France’s economy minister in 2016, he suggested Électricité de France, the giant nuclear-focused state-backed energy company, could be split up. Now, with Mr Macron as France’s reform-minded president, the idea has resurfaced. Analysts suggested EDF’s nuclear activities and riskier debt could be separated from its renewable, retail and network assets. The split, said analysts at UBS, would follow the model of RWE and Innogy in Germany. The nuclear rump could, argue other analysts, then be delisted to sell power at a new, regulated price while keeping a stake in the renewables-focused business.
FT 5th Dec 2017 read more »