France: going greener with nuclear energy

French President Emmanuel Macron has outlined in a speech how he wants to make France greener and more digital by 2030. He said further investments are needed in nuclear power, which he described as absolutely key to achieving the climate goals. But this is also about business: shortly after Macron's speech the French state energy company EDF submitted an offer to Poland for the construction of four to six nuclear reactors.

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Le Monde (FR) /

We need a real debate first

Macron is pressing ahead even though important questions about the future of nuclear power in France remain unanswered, former LREM member of the National Assembly Emilie Cariou criticises in Le Monde:

“Ongoing problems, staff shortages, underestimation of the cost of extending the operating lives of some power plants and the necessary dismantling of others. ... The issue of nuclear energy raises many questions, and energy sovereignty is a key challenge. This is a strategic area that deserves a real national debate in which the MPs are really involved. If we are to address the challenges posed by nuclear power, we must quantify our requirements in terms of financing and human resources and weigh up every option for nuclear waste management with the utmost transparency.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Nuclear power makes sense for Poland

For Gazeta Wyborcza, there are several reasons why Warsaw should accept EDF's offer:

“According to the French, if Poland accepts their offer it would have electricity supplies for at least 60 years which could cover about 40 percent of current demand and bring the country closer to climate neutrality. They also expect the construction of the reactors in Poland to create up to 25,000 jobs. Moreover, the move would reduce CO2 emissions by 55 million tonnes per year.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Nuclear power yes, but not necessarily French

Rzeczpospolita does not expect a quick decision:

“The Polish government wanted to select the technology and partner by the end of 2021, but the delay is due to the slow ratification process of an agreement signed with the Americans. ... The deadline for the US to submit a proposal for Poland expires in autumn 2022. By then, the South Koreans are also supposed to submit their offer. However, this means that only then will a decision be made on which offer to accept. ... So we have to be patient.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

Paris pressing ahead

Germany and France are more than ever on a collision course over the question of what role nuclear energy should play in the fight against climate change, Handelsblatt notes:

“Paris is putting pressure for nuclear power to be classified as a climate-friendly technology in the planned green investment rules in Europe. Berlin is opposing this. But the French government is by no means alone in the EU, and can count on a at least a dozen members as allies. ... If the next German government doesn't want to risk a serious dispute with Paris, it will have little choice but to give in to French pressure in Brussels and otherwise largely bracket out this sensitive issue. Nuclear power remains the frozen conflict in Franco-German relations.”