16 Sept (NucNet): A French parliamentary commission has called on the government to delay its planned phase-out of nuclear energy and stagger it over several decades, saying a sudden withdrawal of nuclear could hit the economy and drive up electricity prices.
A provisional report published by OPECST, a scientific commission of senators and deputies, said France risks being exposed to a power price shock and economic problems if it pursues a speedy phase-out of nuclear energy as part of its transition to alternative energy sources.
The need for a gradual decrease in the use of nuclear energy “cannot be questioned”, the report said. It said any nuclear phase-out should be allied to the progressive emergence of economically viable alternatives.
OPECST called for a “well thought-out roadmap” for France’s energy transition, including delaying the start of the phase-out of nuclear power to 2030 and extending it to the end of the century. This would allow for the costs of developing renewable energies and energy storage to be covered by mature technologies – oil and nuclear – and sufficient energy-saving measures to be implemented during customary infrastructure renovation cycles.
The report said the economic viability of any energy transition must be proven and warned there is a risk of insufficient replacement for nuclear through renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.
Socialist president Francois Hollande wants to reduce France’s share of nuclear power in electricity generation from around 75 percent today to 50 percent by 2025, starting with the shutdown of the two oldest reactors at Fessenheim by the end of 2016.
A national debate on energy policy was launched in January 2013 under the auspices of the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy. The government wants to see a draft law for an “energy transition” by the end of 2013, the OPECST report said.
The OPECST report is online (in French only):