Macron to Visit Turbine Site Aiming to Catch Up on Renewables
(Bloomberg) — President Emmanuel Macron will make the case for greater investment in renewable sources of energy during a trip next week to an offshore wind turbine site in western France.
Macron is likely to say the need to develop renewable sources of energy, save energy and invest in nuclear reactors to reduce reliance on fossil fuels has become more urgent because of Russia’s war in Ukraine, two people familiar with his schedule said.
The push will become a central focus of Macron’s second term in office, and the government aims to introduce new legislation during a cabinet meeting later this month, the people said. The draft bill is currently being reviewed by the administrative court and a consultative body, they added.
It includes measures to increase the amount of land where wind turbines can be built, according to the energy transition ministry. The current version sets out financial compensation for people living near wind turbine sites, the people said.
France is the only European Union member state that missed targets set by EU law for renewables, which generated around a fifth of its gross final energy consumption in 2020. The country is highly dependent on nuclear energy, but a much higher-than-usual number of outages at Electricite de France SA’s reactors is straining the energy market amid price hikes triggered by the war in Ukraine and expectations that Russia may turn off gas supplies.
The government’s tone has recently grown much more alarming, warning of the risk of power outages if Russia does stop gas deliveries in retaliation for sanctions related to the invasion of Ukraine. A complete cut-off is possible, French Energy Transition Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher has said.
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During the presidential campaign earlier this year, Macron pledged to lift administrative and ecology constraints to develop renewable energy. In February, he promised to multiply production capacities almost tenfold by 2050 — a target previously set for 2030 — and said that on-shore wind turbines would need to be expanded “reasonably.”
The new legislation will come in addition to measures already taken to accelerate the development of projects, according to the energy transition ministry.
Wind turbines are controversial in France as they are seen as spoiling landscapes. The Saint-Nazaire site Macron plans to visit is operated by the renewables branch of utility EDF and started operating this year. It’s France’s first offshore wind turbine field.
The EU will coordinate its energy strategy during an exceptional meeting on Sept. 9.