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12.9.19
Approaching Half-Life

Replacing Nuclear With Renewables Would Save France $44.5 Billion

December 11th 18__Dan Robitzski__Filed Under: Earth & Energy
Narcisa Aciko/Victor Tangermann

Nuclear Option

The French government just announced a plan to power 95 percent of the country with solar and wind energy by 2060. And by doing so, the government would spend about $44.5 billion (39 billion euros) less than it would if it maintained its current energy infrastructure.

To get there, the government would need to cancel plans to construct 15 new nuclear power plants, and instead replace its aging nuclear reactors with renewable infrastructure over the next several decades, according to a new report published Monday by the French environmental agency.

Slow and Steady

The report details how France could increase its dependence on solar and wind energy over time, gradually shutting down nuclear power plants to make room for renewables.

But doing so will still be costly: the report suggests that developing these new power plants as well as the necessary infrastructure to support them will cost the government $1.45 trillion (1.28 trillion euros) over the next 42 years. That’s a huge investment, but it’s still much cheaper than maintaining the status quo and replacing the country’s aging nuclear power plants with more modernized reactors.

Ticking Time Bomb

The astute reader may note that 2060 is farther away than 2030, which is approximately the deadline to become carbon neutral according to the U.N.’s bombshell climate change report from October. By that point, according to the French government’s new plan, about 40 percent of France’s energy will come from renewable sources.

That’s not as bad as it sounds, as nuclear reactors don’t contribute to climate change as much as burning coal or natural gas does. And now that there’s a clear financial incentive to go green, there are no more excuses to avoid modernizing the French energy infrastructure.

READ MORE: France Would Save $44.5 Billion by Betting on Renewable Energy, Agency Says [Bloomberg]

More on energy finance: More Than 40 Percent of the World’s Coal Plants Lose Money