In 2019, France’s economy was ranked 7th in the world in gross domestic product (GDP). The country’s economy is dependent on the export of helicopters, planes, spacecraft, pharmaceuticals, automobiles, gas turbines, medical equipment, wine, and beauty products.
In 2009, France as a member of the European Union (EU) committed to the “Renewable Energy Directive,” which requires each country to use renewable energy for 20% of its total energy needs by 2020 and 27% by 2030.
In 2015, France adopted the Energy Transition for Green Growth Bill, which reduces the percentage of electricity produced from the country’s nuclear power plants to 50% by 2025.
In 2016, France as a member of the EU signed the Paris Climate Agreement. The EU committed to a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emission by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.
In 2020, utilities used nuclear power (71.1 %) renewable energy (20.8 %), natural gas (5.3 %), coal (1.8%), and oil (1.0%) to generate electricity in France. The primary sources of renewable energy in France are hydropower, wind, biomass, and solar.
As a result of the Energy Transition for Green Growth mandate, France has begun to develop new, renewable energy projects to replace the nuclear power capacity, including:
- 1,000 MW Solar + Energy Storage Project – In February 2021, French Utility, Engie announced plans to build a solar plus energy storage project in western France. The project is forecast to be commissioned in 2027.
- 498 MW Offshore Wind Project – Renewable energy company, Éolien Maritime France is continuing work on the Fécamp Offshore wind project, which is located approximately 9 miles off the northwest coast of France. The project is forecast to be commissioned in 2023.
- 497 MW Offshore Wind Project – French utility, EDF is continuing work on the Saint-Brieuc Bay wind project, which is located approximately 8 miles off the northwest coast of France. The project is forecast to be commissioned in 2023.
- 448 MW Offshore Wind Project – In February 2021, Canadian energy company, Enbridge begun work on the Courseulles-sur-Mer wind project, which is located approximately 10 miles off the northwest coast of France. The project is forecast to be commissioned in 2024.
- 30 MW Floating Offshore Wind Project – French renewable energy developer, Quadran Energies Marines is continuing work on the EOLMED floating offshore wind pilot project, which is located in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Gruissan, France. The project is forecast to be completed in 2023.
- 20 MW Floating Solar Project – In February 2021, EDF commenced work on a floating solar project at a hydroelectric plant in southeastern France. The project is scheduled to be commissioned by May 2022.
In 2020 over 90% of France’s electrical power was generated from power plants (nuclear and renewables) that emitted zero greenhouse gases. However, France’s plan to dramatically reduce nuclear power capacity over the next four years presents the country with an real energy conundrum.
Will France be able to build sufficient new wind and solar projects over the next four years to offset the loss of over 86.7 billion kilowatt hours per year from nuclear power plants? It is highly unlikely, given the total capacity of planned renewable energy projects.
If the nuclear power plants are shuttered as planned, France will be forced to increase the use of fossil fuels (coal, oil, or natural gas) to keep the lights on across the country. Is this the goal of the Paris Climate Agreement? I think not!
Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”
 France Population (2021) – World Population Review, May 7, 2021
 France – The World Bank Group
 Gross Domestic Product 2019 – World Bank DataBank
 Carbon Brief – “2015: Tracking Country Climate Pledges”
 France – World Nuclear Association