President Emmanuel Macron steps up his anti-pollution efforts by announcing the closure of 14 of the 58 nuclear reactors, of which between four and six will be closed by 2030.
French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that his country will shut down 14 of the country's 58 nuclear reactors currently in operation by 2035, of which between four and six will be closed by 2030.
The total includes the previously announced shutdown of France's two oldest reactors in Fessenheim, eastern France, which Macron said was now set for summer 2020.
He also announced that France would close its remaining four coal-fired power plants by 2022 as part of the country's anti-pollution efforts.
Reducing role of nuclear energy
In a speech laying out the country's energy policies for the coming years, Macron said that "reducing the role of nuclear energy does not mean renouncing it."
France relies on nuclear power for nearly 72 percent of its electricity needs, though the government wants to reduce this to 50 percent by 2030 or 2035 by developing more renewable energy sources.
Wind and solar energy
Macron said France would aim to triple its wind power electricity output by 2030, and increase solar energy output fivefold in that period.
He added that he would ask French electricity giant EDF to study the feasibility of more next-generation EPR nuclear reactors, but will wait until 2021 before deciding whether to proceed with construction.
EDF has been building the first EPR reactor at Flamanville along the Atlantic coast of northwest France – originally set to go online in 2012 – but the project has been plagued by technical problems and budget overruns.
Heard the anger
Earlier during his speech, Macron sought to take the heat out of mass anti-government protests over taxes, saying he had heard the anger but would not change course.
He acknowledged that many struggling households felt penalised by an increase in fuel taxes this year, which sparked road blockades and demonstrations over the past 10 days.
He offered minor concessions, saying he would propose a mechanism to adjust tax hikes when they occurred at the same time as an increase in oil prices internationally – as they have this year.
And he called for a three-month national consultation to draw up a roadmap for accelerating the country's transition away from fossil fuels – which he insisted remained his overall objective.
"What I've taken from these last few days is that we shouldn't change course because it is the right one and necessary," he told lawmakers at the Elysee palace in Paris.