France announces plans to reduce reliance on nuclear power, increase investment in EDF
President Emmanuel Macron announced this week that France will reduce its national dependence on nuclear power to 50% of its energy mix by 2035 from 75% today, Reuters reports. The plan includes provisions to close two nuclear reactors by 2020.
Sources also indicate the French government intends to boost its 83.7% stake in UK gas and electric company EDF to compensate. Reuters’ report also confirmed that the state will “ask the firm to make proposals about changing its structure” in response to the larger investment.
Reuters states that “any alterations to the structure proposed by EDF would have to preserve the integrity of the utility and allocate adequate financing for each of its activities,” continuing that “the state will consider boosting its stake in the capital of the company in line with the challenges and risks linked to the nuclear activity”.
Industry specialists suspect the proposed restructuring would involve EDF creating a seperate legal entity for its nuclear activities, in which the French government would then increase its stake to 100%.
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The report states that “That would take the nuclear risk off the market and could make it easier for the French state to put in place a support mechanism for the… nuclear industry.”
In his press release, President Macron said “France would not phase out nuclear entirely, as its neighbour and economic partner Germany plans to do.”
Macron continued, explaining that “the closure schedule would depend on the evolution of France’s energy mix, including the planned increase of renewable energy sources and the expansion of interconnection capacity with neighbouring countries.”
“It is a pragmatic approach ... which takes into account security of supply,” he said, reinforcing the government’s policy that nuclear power in France will not be reduced to the point that the country has to import power from abroad.
Drax advances biomass strategy with Pinnacle acquisition
The Group’s enlarged supply chain will have access to 4.9 million tonnes of operational capacity from 2022. Of this total, 2.9 million tonnes are available for Drax’s self-supply requirements in 2022, which will rise to 3.4 million tonnes in 2027.
The £424 million acquisition of the Canadian biomass pellet producer supports Drax' ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and will make a "significant contribution" in the UK cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 (click here).
This summer Drax will undertake maintenance on its CfD(2) biomass unit, including a high-pressure turbine upgrade to reduce maintenance costs and improve thermal efficiency, contributing to lower generation costs for Drax Power Station.
In March, Drax secured Capacity Market agreements for its hydro and pumped storage assets worth around £10 million for delivery October 2024-September 2025.
The limitations on BECCS are not technology but supply, with every gigatonne of CO2 stored per year requiring approximately 30-40 million hectares of BECCS feedstock, according to the Global CCS Institute. Nonetheless, BECCS should be seen as an essential complement to the required, wide-scale deployment of CCS to meet climate change targets, it concludes.