France’s Macron seeks ‘enormous’ support for renewable energy

Saint Nazaire, France – French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday called for a “massive acceleration” of renewable energy development in his country, including offshore wind and solar farms, with a new plan that seeks to cause delays. France Closer to the energy policies of its European neighbors.

The move comes amid a major energy crisis in Europe, exacerbated by the Russian war in Ukraine. Macron wants France to have more independence in the production of electricity.

The war changed everything… it disrupted the European model, because many countries depended on Russian gas for (energy) production. Macron stressed in his speech in Saint-Nazaire, a port in western France, that, for the first time, energy has become a weapon of war.

Macron went on a boat Thursday morning to visit France’s first offshore wind farm off the Atlantic coast.

He then detailed a set of measures to speed up renewable energy projects. A bill will be presented next week at a cabinet meeting.

Macron said: “We need massive acceleration. I want us to go at least twice as fast on renewable energy projects…” Our neighbors have often been able to do more, better and, above all, faster. ”

Macron’s new strategy comes as a long-term response to the energy crisis, but it will not help in dealing with short-term challenges. France and other European countries fear electricity shortages this winter, as Russia halts supplies of cheap natural gas on which the continent has relied for years to run factories, generate electricity and heat homes.

France’s energy strategy has long been based on the development of nuclear power – relying on imported uranium – which provides about 67% of French electricity, more than any other country.

At the beginning of the year, Macron announced plans to build six new nuclear reactors and extend the life of its existing nuclear plants as part of the country’s strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.

But he said easing France’s dependence on global gas and oil also involved boosting renewable energy.

France had previously set a target of increasing renewables to 23% by 2020 – but only managed to reach 19%. This leaves the country 17th in the European Union, below an average of 22% in the 27-nation bloc, according to the latest statistics.

Despite thousands of kilometers from the French coast, so far only the offshore wind farm in Saint-Nazaire, with 80 turbines, has appeared. Macron has set a goal of building around 50 similar wind farms by 2050 in France.

He also hopes to double the amount of solar energy produced by 10, and double the power from ground-based wind farms in the same period.

Macron said the new measures will aim to reduce delays in building and launching offshore wind farms from 10 to 12 years now to about six years, and large solar farms from 6 to 3 years.

The new bill also aims to provide network connections as soon as the new facility is ready – rather than a three-year delay now.

Other planned actions include building solar farms on vacant land along highways, railways and parking lots.

Solar collectors will also be encouraged on farmland under certain conditions – including keeping them small to maintain fields for the food industry.

Macron said the bill needs to guarantee funds for local communities to see local benefits from the energy transition.

Macron added that he hopes to take “the same approach” to nuclear power, speeding up and simplifying procedures for building new reactors faster.

Currently, about half of France’s 56 nuclear reactors, all operated by EDF, have been shut down for regular maintenance, and in some cases to fix corrosion problems. The government said this month that the EDF had committed to restarting them all by winter.

The French government has warned that a worst-case scenario could lead to blackouts in French homes, and officials have introduced an “energy sobriety” plan that aims to cut energy use by 10% by 2024.

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Sylvie Courbet reported from Paris.

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