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France names ex Greens candidate and solar advocate as energy minister

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PV Magazine

Newly appointed energy minister Nicolas Hulot is a well-known journalist and environmentalist which has had a leading role in the French Green Party (Europe Écologie-Les Verts) in the past, and has always supported solar through his foundation.

Nicolas Hulot Wikimedia Commons

Nicolas Hulot
Wikimedia Commons

Nicolas Hulot has been named new France’s new energy and environment minister in the cabinet led by the new prime minister Edouard Philippe. Hulot’s ministry, which under the previous government was named Ministry of Energy, Ecology and Sustainable Development (MEEM), has been renamed into Ministry of the Ecological and Solidarity-based Transition.

Hulot, who was a candidate in the primary of the Green Party (Europe Écologie-Les Verts) to the 2012 French presidential election, is a well-known journalist and environmentalist who became popular thanks to his documentary tv show “Ushuaïa Nature, whose slogan is “wonder is the first step towards respect.”

He is also the president of the Fondation Nicolas-Hulot, an environmental organization created by him in 1990.

The new minister has always been a supporter of solar energy in the French political debate.

In 2011, after the French government introduced a moratorium on solar projects which paralyzed the sector for several years, Hulot’s foundation released a study containing a series of proposals on how to further develop PV, and on how to involve all of the country’s interested parties, including government, media, enterprises and associations, in the transition to a clean energy economy.

In a more recent study published in 2015, Hulot’s foundation said that solar must be deployed “at human scale” everywhere in the world, and that it must be adopted especially in countries with low access to electricity. As for PV in France, the foundation said that the country has the potential to install a further 20 GW and 25 GW in addition to the 5.8 GW installed at the time.

This, the reports stressed, can occur without putting pressure on the national grid. If achieved, the target proposed by Hulot’s foundation would enable the country to raise the share of solar in the country power mix from 1% to 8%.

As for the outgoing energy minister, Ségolène Royal, it must be acknowledged that she performed an extraordinary job for the solar sector.

Immediately after her appointment, she started several initiatives aimed at restoring investor confidence, a clear and stable regulatory framework, and a reasonable level of incentives. Under her mandate, solar saw its target by 2023 being tripled to 20.2 GW. Royal’s energy strategy also decided that nuclears share of the French energy mix should fall to 50% by 2025.

Note: Reuters reports that news of the appointment sent the share price of nuclear utility EDF down as much as seven per cent, as the appointment raised doubts in investors’ minds about the strength of Macron’s commitment to a pro-nuclear energy policy.

“There is a fear of a stricter ecological line given Hulot’s history as an environmental campaigner,” said Andrea Tueni, markets analyst with Saxo Bank. Hulot, who scores high in popularity polls, said he hoped the job would allow him to bring about change.

In an interview with Liberation newspaper last month, Hulot said one of France’s main challenges will be to reposition EDF on a path that is compatible with a transition from dependence on nuclear power towards the use of more renewables.

“As renewable energy becomes more and more competitive, the nuclear industry business model belongs to the past,” he said.

Source: PV Magazine. Reproduced with permission.

  

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  • heinbloed

    OT

    Switzerland voted today against atom power and for REs:

    http://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFL8N1IN0BY

  • George Darroch

    Enough of the anti-nuclear action! We are in a climate emergency.

    Yes, we should not be building new nuclear, for reasons of cost. And yes, we will need to decommission existing plant at the end of its useful life, at great cost. But this cost will be incurred anyway – in the meantime, there is zero emissions baseload power at low cost that can facilitate the transition out of coal.

    • Alex Hromas

      Base load is a construct resulting from the inability of coal and nuclear generators to start up and shut down at short notice. As a result there is the need to keep them running even when demand is low. Renewable energy systems can start up and shut off very fast in response to load changes sure they are not despatchable in the strict sense but once interlinked they can provide continuous power through the grid. At present the folk who keep banging the drum about base load simply have a mental block re system stability under a different regime

      • George Darroch

        We’re not talking about low-demand scenarios here though. We’re talking about decreased generation of one zero emissions energy source which currently dominates supply, simply because it’s unfashionable for some people. Nuclear is not without its problems but in the next 15 years it will be coal that covers the shortfall. And that is unforgiveable.