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France Bets On Nuclear Power To Reach Net-Zero Goal

France will re-launch the construction of nuclear reactors in a bid to decarbonize its electricity mix, reach net-zero emissions by 2050, and guarantee the country’s energy independence, French President Emmanuel Macron said in an address to the nation on Tuesday.  

“For the first time in decades, we will re-launch the construction of nuclear reactors in our country and continue to develop renewable energy sources,” Macron said.

Last month, Macron said that France aimed to become a leader in green hydrogen production and reinvent nuclear power by building a small modular reactor by 2030 as part of a wider $34.7 billion (30 billion euro) plan to decarbonize industry and slash emissions.

France’s bet on nuclear power—unlike Germany’s decision to phase out all nuclear plants after the Fukushima disaster—has been vindicated in recent weeks as Europe’s natural gas and power prices hit record highs. The gas and electricity crisis clashed with the net-zero pledges of the European Union and the United Kingdom as some utilities were forced to fire up mothballed coal plants as natural gas prices surged.

France also leads a group of EU member states, including Finland and several central and eastern European countries, who call for including nuclear energy in the upcoming green investment rules of the European Union.

“To win the climate battle, we need nuclear power,” say the EU member states led by France.

This push has divided Europe, and the EU is reportedly delaying a decision on how to deal with nuclear energy, as well as natural gas, in upcoming legislation about which types of energy would classify as eligible for “green financing.”

France could reach net-zero emissions by 2050 if it continues to keep a large nuclear generation fleet in the long term and develop significantly renewable energy sources, the operator of the French grid, RTE, said in a report at the end of October.    

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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