David Fuller's view -
“The Government, which was in coalition with the Greens, decided to increase the % of "green" energies to reduce the French dependence (they should say independence) on nuclear electricity. To please the Greens, during the Presidential electoral campaign in 2012, Hollande promised to close Fessenheim (the oldest French nuclear plant). Since the departure of the remaining green ministers earlier this year, there are still talks of closing it down but other talks of lengthening its life (from what I read I doubt it since it would be very costly). In France, there is one nuclear plant under construction using a new technology (EPR -Evolutionary Pressurized Reactors- a 3rd generation of PWR -Pressurized Water Reactor) in Flammanville; the second one has been suspended by EDF following Fukushima; in 2013 EDF announced that current demand did not warrant launching its construction. The first one under construction is in Finland and is a kind of financial disaster for Areva being 5 years behind schedule(!) so far and will probably increase to 9 years, due to design and construction problems (I understand the construction of this new generation is rather complex - I guess these are "normal" glitches for new babies).
“The French nuclear lobby is very powerful in France (even the communists are pro-nuclear) and I do not see how France could achieve 50% nuclear electricity by 2025 from 75% currently. The French nuclear plants are getting rather old and will need to be replaced: my guess is that most will be replaced but for any unforeseeable event.
“France badly needs nuclear electricity to balance (a bit) its Energy trade deficit. According to Areva, the nuclear industry represents EUR 6 billion of annual exports, employs 125,000 workers (410,000 in indirect and induced employment is added) plus several EUR billions of electricity exports. Finally, electricity is cheaper in France than Germany, one of the few competitive advantages of France.
“I have been very bearish on the French economy and I do not see any fundamental improvement. How long will the Germans tolerate France always signing agreements and never abiding by them? Time is running really short, and we are in an environment of artificially low interest rates which, when going up again, will really hurt the French budget (today, interest payments are higher than the income tax...). The mood in France is really bad (when talking to family and friends). I wrote an article a couple of years ago where I explained that it was France and not Italy that was the sick man of Europe, and I believe that the "chance" of an EU breakdown more possible than ever.”
Thank you so much for this very detailed and informative summary. The haunting question I ask myself: How much more prosperous might France and indeed most other European countries be today, without the Euro and the vast, often undemocratic and very expensive Brussels regime?
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