Electricity sector in France
|Left: The Cattenom nuclear power station near Luxemburg|
Right: Wind power in France; turbines in Lower Normandy
Bottom: The Cruas nuclear power plant at night.
The electricity sector in France is dominated by nuclear power, which accounted for 72.3% of total production in 2016, while renewables and fossil fuels accounted for 17.8% and 8.6%, respectively. France has the largest share of nuclear electricity in the world. France's electrical grid is part of the Synchronous grid of Continental Europe and it is among the world's biggest net exporters of electricity. The French nuclear power sector is almost entirely owned by the French government and the degree of the government subsidy is difficult to ascertain because of a lack of transparency.
In 2008 consumption of electricity was on average 8,233 kWh/person. This corresponded to 110% of the EU15 average (7,409 kWh/person) and 91% of the OECD average (8,991 kWh/person).
Electricity per person and by power source
|Use||Production||Export||Exp. %||Fossil||Nuclear||Nuc. %||Other RE*||Bio+waste||Wind||Non RE use*||RE %*|
|* Other RE is waterpower, solar and geothermal electricity and wind power until 2008|
* Non RE use = use – production of renewable electricity
* RE % = (production of RE / use) * 100% Note: European Union calculates the share of renewable energies in gross electrical consumption.
Mode of production
|Current grid status|
French gross production of electricity was 557 terawatt-hours (TWh) in 2014,:27 slightly down from 570 and 567 TWh produced in 2008 and 2004, respectively. France is the world's 9th largest producer of electricity.:27 France is also the world's second largest producer of nuclear electricity, behind the United States and ahead of Russia and Korea. In terms of nuclear's share on the total domestic electricity generation, France has by far the highest percentage portion of any country in the world (78.4% in 2014, also see chart "Electricity production by source").:17
The French nuclear power is almost entirely owned by the French government and its electricity is sold to the government. According to Al Gore the degree of the government subsidy is difficult to ascertain because of a lack of transparencies in the finances of the operation.
The Commissariat à l’Énergie Atomique is the national authority in France. Nuclear companies include EdF and Areva. Électricité de France (EdF) is the main electricity producer. Eurodif is the uranium enrichment plant. Areva NC (France) and Rio Tinto (UK) are the top uranium companies of the world.
France has the largest share of electricity from nuclear power in the world. According to the IEA 77% of its domestic electricity was generated by nuclear power in 2013. The second was Belgium 52.1%, third Slovakia 51.7% and followed by Hungary 50.7%, Ukraine 43.6%, Sweden 42.7%, Switzerland 36.4%, the Czech Republic 35.9%, Slovenia 33.6% and Finland 33.3% France's nuclear reactors comprise 90 per cent of EDFs capacity and so they are used in load-following mode and some reactors close at weekends because there is no market for the electricity. This means that the capacity factor is low by world standards, usually in the high seventies as a percentage, which is not an ideal economic situation for nuclear plants.
In terms of installed capacity and produced power in 2013 France was the second largest producer of nuclear energy in the world behind the United States. Installed nuclear capacity was 63.1 GW and power production 403.7 TWh.
France reprocesses its nuclear waste to retrieve plutonium and uranium for use as additional fuel. Fission products are stored in La Hague facility until a deep geological repository for high-level waste can be constructed. A repository for low-level and short-lived intermediate-level nuclear waste is already operational.
The European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) at Flamanville, the first new nuclear reactor to be built in France in 15 years, is now expected to open in 2016 instead of the original starting date of 2012, and will cost €8.5bn instead of the original estimate of €3.3bn.
Installed hydro electricity power capacity was 25 GW in 2014, and hydro generation was 69 TWh (ranked 10th in the world). Hydro share in total domestic electricity generation was 12.2%.:19
In 2013 electric energy from wind power in France was only produced in onshore wind farms. However, on January 25, 2011, President Nicolas Sarkozy confirmed the tendering process to build France's first five offshore wind farms, expected to have a capacity of 3GW and to be sited off the Atlantic coast between Saint-Nazaire and Dieppe/Le Tréport. Tender documents were to be sent out on April 1, with the winning bid announced in early 2012. A second round of bidding to provide a further 3GW of capacity is expected in 2012.
France had 4.028 GW of photovoltaics at the end of 2012, installing 1.079 GW that year. The electricity generated in France by photovoltaics was 4,000 GWh in 2011. The largest completed solar park is the 115 MW Toul-Rosières Solar Park.
France imported 22 megatonnes (Mt) of oil products for all purposes in 2014, making it Europe's largest, and the world's 4th largest net-importer of fossil oil, behind Japan (29 Mt), Singapore (26 Mt), and Indonesia (23 Mt).:21 However, the majority of oil was used by the transportation sector (57% in 2011) and not for electricity generation.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Electricity in France.|
- Energy in France
- Électricité de France
- Nuclear power in France
- Renewable energy in France
- Solar power in France
- Wind power in France
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- Al Gore: Our Choice, A plan to solve the climate crises, Bloomsbury 2009 page 156
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