Bruno Le Maire clashes with parliamentarians on the future of nuclear power

Bruno Le Maire clashes with parliamentarians on the future of nuclear power

Lively exchanges took place in the National Assembly on the drop in nuclear electricity production between the left-wing deputies (NUPES) and the Minister of the Economy, present in the hemicycle on the occasion of the vote on the project amending finance law.

On the night of Tuesday to Wednesday (July 26-27), the deputies adopted the amending finance bill. In the text referred to the Senate, the “nationalization” of EDF is recorded – or at least the principle of a public takeover bid by the State for the remaining 16% of capital for 9.7 billion euros.

However, the result was not easy to swallow, especially for the left.

In fact, nuclear production is at half mast. France accuses significant electricity imports: up to 10 GW on a single day, as evidenced by the figures of RTE. A Cchar for a country that is usually a net exporter.

More than half of the park stopped

Currently, about thirty reactors are shut down. Some for maintenance, 12 for corrosion problems. Lhe Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) has just validated the control strategy put in place by EDF.

Some also suffer from the weather. The scorching temperatures that cross France indeed threaten their cooling.

But for “ensure the security of the electrical network” during this critical period, the ASN extended, last Friday (July 22), a temporary derogation from the shutdown rules provided for such situations. The Golfech, Saint-Alban, Blayais and Bugey power plants will thus be able to operate until August 7, 2022.

Whatever the effects of maintenance and other forced shutdowns, the nuclear fleet still provided more than half of the electricity production during the month, shows RTE.

Notable performance in times of crisis, even if, as usual, the reactors provide 60 to 70% of the country’s electricity needs.

Nevertheless, summer is conducive to less electricity consumption than in winter. The real test for the network is therefore to be expected this winter full of uncertainties.

In addition, EDF has just presented its financial results for the first half: 5.3 billion euros in losses, linked in particular to the problems listed above.

Heated debate at the assembly

It was enough to warm up the benches of the left in the National Assembly, during the debates on the amending finance bill. Ecologists and other rebels have had a field day against atomic energy, castigating the government’s irresponsibility.

Thus of Julien Bayou, deputy Europe Écologie Les Verts (EELV) of Paris and framework of the party which say again “to all those who confuse reality with their whims”that “Nuclear does not work”.

What the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, present in the hemicycle, retorts that “sometimes ideology blinds you”because “If nuclear power did not work, we would have debates at night and by candlelight”.

The day before, Monday (July 25), on France Inter, like Jean-Luc Mélenchon before him, the deputy La France insoumise (LFI) from the North Adrien Quatennens, signaled “intermittency” assumed to be atomic energy. Not “in fact”, of course, but “in circumstances” he admits, since due to global warming “what was not intermittent yesterday, will become more and more so “.

The LFI executive takes the opportunity to remind that France is currently the country furthest behind on its renewable targets” within the European Union.

On this subject, the LFI deputy for Essonne, Antoine Léaument, took advantage of his speaking time to assert that the cost of the “Grand Carénage” program to extend the life of power plants would represent the same budget as for the construction of 33 to 76 wind farms at sea. However, their “installed power would be greater than the installed production of French nuclear power”he assures.

What the deputy National Rally (RN) of the Somme, Jean-Philippe Tanguy, respond that “Onshore wind turbines, solar panels will never be profitable compared to nuclear power”noting that he “it took the European electricity market to reach historic levels for wind turbines to start paying”.

Renewable profitability

In this sense, the Energy Regulation Commission (CRE) unveiled on July 18 its assessment of the public energy service charges to be compensated by the State for the year 2023.

Result: renewable energies (EnR) will bring money to the State in 2023. A situation which is explained by the currently very high price of the megawatt hour (MWh), insofar as, when the prices are higher than the feed-in tariff set by the State, the operators pay the difference to the public authorities.

This is enough to push some observers to claim the profitability of renewable energies, in particular wind power, the main contributor to these positive, but above all unprecedented, results.

France is restarting its coal-fired power plants while at the same time 4.7 GW of wind projects and 3 GW of solar projects are currently blocked in examination. »reacted the president of the association France Energie Eolienne, Anne-Catherine Tourtier.

The government has already announced a bill to accelerate the development of renewable energies for the start of the school year.


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