France’s grid operator says cheapest path to net-zero needs nuclear power

France must build 14 new nuclear reactors, alongside a surge in renewables investment by 2050, if it is to meet its carbon-neutral goals at the cheapest cost, and without endangering supply, the country’s grid operator said in a report. 

It foresees a 35 per cent jump in electricity demand to decarbonize transport and manufacturing, highlights the challenges faced by most countries to fight global warming. It comes as Europe is engulfed in an energy crisis that lays bare the continent’s dependence on fossil fuel imports. 

“The economic assessment of production costs, of flexibilities and of network requirements render scenarios with new nuclear less expensive by 2050 and 2060,” Xavier Piechaczyk, Chairman of French grid operator Reseau de Transport d’Electricite, said during a presentation of the report Monday.

The analysis, which studied six main scenarios including an all-renewable power system by 2050, may encourage President Emmanuel Macron to announce the construction of new atomic plants before next April’s presidential election. 

Under the cheapest scenario, the power system would cost 59 billion euros ($69 billion) per year by 2060 from 45 billion euros currently, RTE said. That scenario would include the commissioning of 14 new large nuclear reactors and a series of smaller reactors from 2035 and 2050.

Beside cost, other considerations may be taken into consideration by public authorities, including the footprint of the grid and waste treatment, Piechaczyk said. The economic advantage of adding new nuclear plants is based on the assumption that they would benefit from financing conditions similar to renewables, and stress tests show that this benefit would persist in almost all scenarios, he added. 

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Dear user, please be aware that we use cookies to help users navigate our website content and to help us understand how we can improve the user experience. If you have ideas for how we can improve our services, we’d love to hear from you. Click here to email us. By continuing to browse you agree to our use of cookies. Please see our Privacy & Cookie Usage Policy to learn more.