Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The French parliament is to start discussing a bill aimed at speeding up investments in nuclear energy as part of the green push.
President Emmanuel Macron stressed that the move would help France to strengthen its energy independence by removing bureaucratic obstacles to the construction of new nuclear power plants, according to France24 reporting on Monday.
Macron has proposed to build and bring online six new nuclear reactors by 2035, with the possibility of investing in additional eight reactors, noting that the proposed bill scraps the 50-per cent cap on the share of nuclear power in France’s energy mix that was introduced eight years ago.
MP Maud Bregeon pointed out that the proposal would “allow France to reach carbon neutrality” with the help of nuclear energy while strengthening the country’s energy independence.
Critics of the proposal have raised safety concerns about France’s ageing reactors and added that the bill calls for merging two nuclear watchdogs, which green MPs criticised as an attempt to weaken oversight.
They added that the government’s plan is expensive, noting that the country would have to invest in new reactors while maintaining ageing ones.
Public support rising
According to polls, support for nuclear energy is steadily increasing, prompting French greens to rethink their strategy against nuclear energy which was based on the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
Recent polls suggest that support for nuclear power has increased from approximately 34% in 2019 to roughly 60% this year, with more than 70% of respondents in favour of plans to speed up investments in nuclear. Green voters are no exception, with approximately 50% in favour of nuclear power.
Critics have pointed out that France still imports nuclear fuel from Russia, stressing that increasing reliance on nuclear power would not help the country to become more energy independent.
Besides focusing on nuclear energy locally, France has been pushing for the inclusion of nuclear power in the EU’s energy mix and plans to transition away from fossil fuels, pointing out that nuclear power plants do not emit CO2 and can help the bloc to become more energy independent.
Germany is one of the main opponents of France’s proposal, stressing that nuclear energy should not enjoy the same support from the bloc as renewables.