The energy policy of France seeks to achieve a balance between the environmentally responsible production and use of energy, the growth and competitiveness of the economy, and secure and competitively priced energy and infrastructure. To meet these objectives, the French government in 2007 launched an impressive environmental programme, Grenelle de l’Environnement, which sets ambitious targets, particularly in the buildings and transport sectors. The government has also made commendable efforts in enhancing gas supply security and forwarding initiatives to expand infrastructure and interconnections with neighbouring countries. These efforts should make regional electricity and gas markets more stable and secure. In the nuclear power sector, France has created an independent Nuclear Safety Authority and established a comprehensive framework for managing all kinds of radioactive waste and materials.
Notwithstanding its policy successes, France faces a number of challenges. Its targets aimed at combating climate change are very ambitious. While greenhouse gas emissions in France are lower than the average among IEA countries due to the important role in electricity generation of nuclear power, emissions in the transport and buildings sectors increased from 1990 to 2008. Effective implementation of the announced policies and measures will be imperative for meeting France’s international and national commitments. In the electricity sector, the co-existence of regulated tariffs and market prices may impede mobilising the investment needed for maintenance and life extensions of nuclear power plants. The country also needs to boost the flexibility of electricity networks in order to achieve a structural balance between base load generation and increasing demand for peak-load.
This review analyses the energy challenges facing France and provides sectoral critiques and recommendations for further policy improvements.