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  • Writer's pictureKayleanna Giesinger

France Energy Transition

A Sustainable Energy final project wrote along with Margot Whittington, Benjamin Shantz, Eliana Fleifel, Kevin Herdes, Muhamad Fariz Failaka and Mandie Yantha.


The energy system in France has been and continues to be a key driver of economic, social and environmental prosperity in the country. France produces energy using a mix of different energy generation methods. Nuclear power makes up almost half the energy mix in France, followed by Hydropower and Wind. Although coal and oil hold a small share of France’s overall energy mix, the country continues to emit millions of megatons of Green House Gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere. In 2015, France signed the Paris Climate Agreement alongside 183 other nations and set an ambitious goal to decrease emissions by 75% by 2050 from 2013 levels. The Multiannual Energy Plan is a strong starting point for France to reduce emissions by 2050 significantly. However, after reviewing the outlined targets and studying the different technology, investment and optimization options France can pursue, this report proposes a revised set of targets for France that would not only allow it to achieve a 75% reduction in emissions by 2050, but also a 90% reduction by 2100. The purpose of this report is to lay out a clear action plan for France to achieve its Paris Climate commitments and achieve the 90% reduction in emissions by 2100.

Specific political, socio-economic, technological, financial and strategic considerations made in creating a new energy transition plan for France. Politically, the approach is through empowering French people to take control of their energy consumption through awareness, education, accessing data, subsidies, rebates, research, and innovation. Additionally, our primary, secondary, and higher education school system(s) and professional training sectors will have mandatory curricula.

In response to the continued civil unrest in France, observable through the violent ongoing “yellow vest” protests, we recommend France take advantage of an opportunity to improve social well-being by reallocating its carbon tax revenue. Rather than using the revenue from the carbon tax, which amounted to 34 billion euros in 2018 and 2019 – an amount that will continue to grow as the carbon tax rate increases annually – to pay off the national debt, we recommend 75 percent of these funds (totaling 25.5 billion euros in 2018 and 2019) be returned to French citizens as a “green voucher”. The green voucher should be sent to all citizens through a tax rebate to lessen the burdens average consumers are facing as a result of the rapid annual increase of the carbon tax. Rural people and low-income people should receive a slightly larger than average share of these funds, as they are the most vulnerable to the results of the increased carbon tax. We recommend the remaining 25 percent of the revenue (totaling 8.5 billion euros in 2018 and 2019) be allocated towards green investments, as divided into the following three categories: 1) a rebate fund to help homeowners and small and medium-sized business owners afford energy efficiency retrofits, 2) a disaster risk mitigation fund to support municipalities in mitigating the impacts of climate change, and 3) investments in electrification and renewable energy technologies. 

France can follow multiple technology pathways to reduce consumption and increase efficiency in the energy system. These pathways include top-down and bottom-up solutions. The main areas that should be focused on include; retrofitting their outdated and ageing building stock, constructing distributed generation and storage infrastructure, nuclear efficiency, the long-term nuclear fuel storage, and hydrogen production with electricity surplus.

Additionally, the energy mix utilized in France will go through a transition. The transition will be composed of a fuel switch from coal to gas, nuclear power, carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), and renewable energies. In order to meet the target for long-term decarbonization and reduce GHG emissions, and energy mix projection model is developed to analyze how the power sector of France can be decarbonized by relying on renewable energy sources. Three (3) renewable generation technologies, i.e. wind, solar photovoltaic (PV), and hydro is considered as the primary concern in the future energy mix followed by nuclear, bioenergy, and fossil energies including coal, fuel oil, and natural gas.

With regards to the investment needed to get to a 75% carbon-free energy system by 2050, an energy transition plan needs an immediate increase in electrification for overall energy consumption. Specific attention needs to be given to the transportation sector, a replacement of old nuclear reactors with a combination of new reactors and a slow transition to renewables, increased efficiency of buildings through green retrofits, and increased regulation of investment reporting. Therefore, ensuring investments are transparent with their involvement in fossil fuels, encouraging the conscious citizen to invest in low-carbon funds. 

Through the use of the proposed policies, technology and cost mitigation strategies, climate mitigation roadmap is developed. The dates of importance being 2020, 2025, 2030, 2050 and 2100. Each of these dates has similar carbon mitigation goals and techniques. Continual monitoring and assessment will take place to ensure the goals will be achieved. Considering the French carbon reduction strategy success and being ranked within the top ten countries for World Energy Trilemma and the Energy Transition Index, there is strong confidence in achieving these goals

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