France looking beyond nuclear power

The most nuclear-dependant country in the world is to conduct a review of its longstanding energy policy.
Since the mid-seventies, France has heavily invested in nuclear energy to produce most of its electricity – approximately 78 per cent – making it one of the greenest industrialised western nations.
However, in the wake of the devastating Japanese tsunami and earthquake last year, which compromised one of the country’s nuclear plants in Fukushima, attitudes towards the viability of this energy source has changed.
This has been most explicitly seen in Japan, which has turned off all nuclear reactors as of this year. It was recently reported that Japan is considering completely abandoning nuclear power within the next 30 years.
France, meanwhile, is looking to turn its attention to its stagnated renewables industry, and representatives from the government, unions, non-government organisations and even consumers will all gather for a two-day conference to kick off a national debate.
Besides representing a shift in narrative with regards to how the country is powered, Francois Hollande’s government also sees it as one legitimate way of tackling unemployment and boosting the country’s economy.
At present, only approximately 100,000 people are employed by the renewables industry, and with this sector seen as one of the big industries of the future, France is somewhat lagging behind.
Reuters reported that in total, renewable energy only makes up 13 per cent of the energy produced. Wind power accounts for just two per cent, while solar power contributes a paltry 0.5 per cent.
With Germany leading the way in investing in the green sector and turning its back on nuclear power – within the next decade it claims no energy will be produced by nuclear power – it bodes well for other countries like France to follow suit.
While many European countries are turning away from nuclear power – Italy has a moratorium on any plants being built, while Switzerland plans to close all five of its reactors by 2034 – emerging economies in Asia are looking to develop their nuclear energy sector.
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