France’s energy transition needs more emphasis on renewable energy

France is losing €6-9 billion a year in gas imports because the country failed to meet its renewable energy goals agreed upon at the European level, according to a new think-tank study unveiled this week. Paul Messad discusses the report in an article on the Euractiv website.


Renewable energy delay is costing France billions: report

France’s share of renewable energies amounts to 19% of the country’s gross final energy consumption, way below the 23% target that Paris agreed to reach by 2020 under the EU’s renewable energy directive.

This shortfall will thus have to be compensated by other energy sources, according to the study conducted by the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), the Jacques Delors Institute, the Institute for Climate Economics (I4CE) and the French Observatory of Economic Conjunctures (OFCE).

The cost of France lagging in meeting its target would amount to €6-9 billion in gas imports per year, for a gas price of between €100 and €150 per megawatt-hour (MWh), according to Andreas Rüdinger from IDDRI.

According to the researcher, gas rather than electricity is the right metric because “the French shortfall is primarily in the area of renewable heat that could have been substituted for gas or fuel oil”.

He adds that the observed shortfall in this sector is 70 terawatt-hours (TWh), while these costly gas imports would supply 65 TWh.

Besides, it could take time before France plugs that gap since the bill on the development of renewable energies currently being debated in the National Assembly is silent on the subject, Rüdinger added.

In addition, to meet its renewable energy target for 2030, France will also have to invest an extra €7-11 billion per year, I4CE pointed out.

On top of that, the government will have to spend €500 million to reach its targets by purchasing so-called “statistical megawatts” from the “surplus” other EU countries like Italy generate in relation to their targets.

Possible sanctions?

However, given the binding nature of these EU targets, there is a risk the EU institutions will sanction France for failing to meet them.

Asked by EURACTIV France, the European Commission refused to say whether sanctions are envisaged and in what amount. “If there are sanctions, we will communicate them when they are adopted,” a spokesperson said.

A financial penalty could amount to about the price of “statistical megawatts”, IDDRI said.

Still, France would also need to invest around €30 billion more per year to achieve its decarbonisation objectives, according to I4CE.

During this year’s presidential election campaign, French President Emmanuel Macron promised to increase investments and public co-financing for renewable energies by €10 billion per year from 2023.

“As discussions between the government and Parliament stand, the increase will be 3.5 billion. A third of what was planned,” the think-tank says.

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2 thoughts on “France’s energy transition needs more emphasis on renewable energy

  1. The problem in France is not lack of money, it is the approach to planning and permitting that is the problem. Pre-2020, if you wanted to erect a wind farm in France, the permitting process was the same as for a petro-chemical plant (no I’m not making this up). Coupled this to “EdF and the French state – is there a difference?” & it is hardly surprising that renewables of any sort have moved forwards in fits & starts in France.

    One only needs to consider progress in off-shore wind to see that France is a laggard. Fact – there are almost 5,800 offshore wind turbines installed in Europe, 27 are in France. Given its coast line – this is beyond pathetic & 100% down to institutional failures. Macron could have done something in his first term, but chose to sit on his hands and will probably do something similar in the 2nd term. Promising money is pointless if institutional/government attitudes don’t change.

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