A few months ago French environment minister Nicolas Hulot took the trip of almost 100m to the top of a wind turbine funded partly by a co-operative of poultry farmers. Back on the ground, he found the right analogy to tell his audience why the country needs plenty more of the same. “Energy is like eggs,” said the television personality chosen by President Emmanuel Macron to lead France’s energy transition, during the trip to the village of Juillé, 200km from Paris. “You cannot put all the eggs in the same basket.” Projects such as Juillé’s are meant to correct the fact that, for many years, France has done almost exactly that with nuclear power, which generates almost three-quarters of its energy. Nuclear has given France some of Europe’s cheapest energy – but the dependence on an ageing nuclear fleet now poses tough questions about how the country makes a belated transition towards renewable sources of power. Mr Macron has made the shift a centrepiece of his presidency and the government will outline this year how it intends to cut the use of nuclear power. It promises to involve costly changes for consumers and for state-owned energy companies, while any opposition from energy unions would weigh on a government already embroiled in numerous fights with vested interests, from farmers to railway workers.
FT 30th April 2018 read more »