A somewhat “hidden” report was recently released that said France could be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2050 (note that this is for electricity, not all energy). If the report is accurate, obviously it is a huge wakeup call about the potential of renewable energy there. If you aren’t aware, France currently gets most of its electricity from nuclear power. The older nuclear reactors clearly can have some safety issues and might be prone to accidents, as we all learned from the Fukushima debacle.
So, how could France switch to 100% renewables in just 35 years? By quickly developing wind, solar, and hydroelectric power, says the document.
The first thing that comes to mind is the energy mix now in France, which is about 77% nuclear with 15% renewables and 8% fossil fuels.
So, it would go from 15% to 100% in the above scenario. In other words, not starting from zero. If it seems silly to think of France being able to transition to 100% renewable energy, just consider that Spain has achieved a level of 47%, and without developing its solar power potential nearly as much as it could. The same is true of Portugal, a country that has produced 70% of its electricity from renewable energy. Again, that’s without being very supportive of solar power.
So, France has a chance to grow its renewable energy mix very much and rapidly. It must be pointed out that France is a major economic player and has money to invest in renewable energy. The main reason it went nuclear so aggressively in previous decades it is that the government wanted to become far less reliant on imported fossil fuels, for economic reasons. After constructing many nuclear power plants, France became too dependent on nuclear, which is still true today.
It didn’t take France that long to undergo a sort of nuclear power bonanza, but wind and solar power farms usually take far less time to construct than new nuclear power plants, so transitioning to 100% renewable electricity might actually be faster than going nearly fully nuclear, like it did decades ago.
New technology like energy storage in the form of battery systems, and more efficient microgrids, will probably help smoothen the transition. So, yes, France could run on 100% renewable electricity and it is possible to achieve that level in 35 years. Does it have the political will to follow through?
By the way, the report, commissioned by ADEME France (its environment and energy management agency), was completed but publishing was reportedly delayed. Mediapartsomehow got a hold of it and published it in full, the website states.
Source: CleanTechnica. Reproduced with permission.