In 2019, nuclear and oil accounted for almost 35% of France’s total energy supply, as most of the electricity was generated by nuclear power, and the transport sector was mostly fuelled by oil. Fossil gas accounted for around 15% of total primary energy supply, with most of it consumed by buildings and industry. France aims to increase fivefold the amount of district heating and cooling from renewable energy in heat networks by 2030, from current levels. The government has a target to reduce the share of nuclear in the country’s electricity generation to 50% by 2035. While this policy is still in place, in February 2022, President Macron announced that the country would build six new reactors and potentially commission another eight by 2035–2037 to deal with the decaying state of existing reactors.
The French government had committed to shutting down coal power plants by 2022 and to not authorise any new coal-fired power stations.However, in August 2021, a law was adopted to allow the country to reopen coal power plants and decided to keep one power plant running at a 10% capacity “to ensure network stability”. This decision is likely to postpone the coal phase-out to 2024 or 2026. More recently, in light of the ongoing fossil energy crisis, France has extended the operation of one coal plant to at latest the end of 2023.
According to the EU’s first Renewable Energy Directive adopted in 2009, France was to increase the share of renewable energy in its final energy consumption to 23% by 2020. However, France missed this target, with the share of renewables reaching only 19% in 2020.] Throughout 2022, France experienced significant unplanned switching off of nuclear power plants and low electricity generation from hydro power. These difficulties indicate that the country needs to develop renewables not only to reduce emissions, but also to increase its energy security.