Industries

Electricity in the air

By suggesting that he was going to vote in favor of the Small Modular Reactor (SMR), these new generation small modular reactors that would complement conventional power plants, but also that he was going to make a decision on building future EPRs, Third Generation Power Plants Without waiting for the commissioning of the Flamanville EPR, whose delays and costs have skyrocketed, Emmanuel Macron dramatically reopens the nuclear debate in France and makes it one of the big issues of the next presidential campaign. Because around this issue there revolve multiple issues, as divisive as they are important for our country: science, industrial and energy sovereignty, purchasing power, the environment …

Science because the future of nuclear power, including long-awaited fusion, is taking shape in a global race in which France, a pioneer of civilian nuclear power and a nuclear-armed power, cannot afford to miss the boat. From this scientific domain flow future industrial developments that will shape our sovereignty, both for our own needs and for the export of our know-how in this field. Next, our energy sovereignty is also at stake. It is always better to produce energy than to depend on imports from foreign countries whose fluctuating prices quickly stifle the purchasing power of households and the economic performance of our companies. By producing most of its electricity from its nuclear fleet, France also has electricity that is among the cheapest in Europe …

To talk about nuclear is obviously to talk about the environment with this thorny question: are nuclear power plants, which do not emit CO2, the best way to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050, as France has committed to signing the Paris Agreement, or they are a false good idea given the nuclear waste they produce and what will remain a burden for future generations? So where should the cursor be placed in the energy mix, between fully nuclear and 100% renewable? By choosing to abandon nuclear power for renewables, Germany, self-proclaimed the greenest country in Europe, has become the most polluting by being forced to leave polluting coal-fired power plants running … Can we especially follow this example In a time when the country is traversed by an anti-wind sling, are they accused of disfiguring landscapes and of being unproductive?

The six months ahead of the presidential campaign will not be too long to answer all these questions and determine where to place the famous cursor. But we can already see that there has been a change of opinion. The bad image of nuclear energy after the Fukushima disaster seems distant: according to an Odoxa poll published last week, 51% of the French have a positive image of nuclear energy …

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