France Plans Nuclear Tax To Fund Energy Transition

By David Dalton
23 September 2013

23 Sept (NucNet): France plans to introduce a tax on nuclear energy as well as a tax on carbon emissions from fossil fuels to raise billions of euros needed to boost renewable power and improve energy efficiency.

In a speech in Paris on 21 September 2013, prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said the nuclear levy will be applied to state-owned Electricite de France’s existing 58 nuclear reactor units. The carbon tax will be introduced “progressively” on fossil fuels in order to earn four billion euros (EUR) (about 5.4 billion US dollars) in 2016

“All change is expensive in the short term even if it’s beneficial in the long term,” Mr Ayrault said.

“Our nuclear fleet will be asked to contribute. The tax would apply “over the remaining lifetime of our reactors”.

The announcement followed a speech last week by French president Francois Hollande, who reiterated a 2012 election campaign pledge to reduce the country’s nuclear share of electricity generation to 50 percent in 2025, from the current level of around 75 percent.

The energy transition, to include increased use of renewables and greater energy efficiency, will cost an estimated EUR 20 billion a year, Mr Hollande said.

Last week a French parliamentary commission called on the government to delay its planned partial phase-out of nuclear energy – starting with the shutdown of the two oldest reactors at Fessenheim by the end of 2016 – 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.

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.

Mr Ayrault’s speech is online:

The OPECST report is online (in French only):

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