On the outskirts of Paris, this subsidised housing block has solar panels on the roof. A renewable energy NGO called CLER manages the initiative, in a country where nuclear power provides a significant portion of the overall needs. Renewables in France represent less than six percent of the whole — about the EU average. Setting an EU legally-binding target for energy production from renewable sources at twenty percent may still be well short of a consensus. But if nuclear energy is recognised as a valid part of the equation, that could help win agreement.
Arnaud Brunel is the head of CLER. He supports the idea of nuclear co-existence with renewables, as a realistic option. He said: “Today, we are no longer debating nuclear’s role compared to renewable sources. We are really promoting getting energy under control, energy efficiency, and developing renewables in France, where they are almost non-existant, certainly for producing electricity.”
Some eighty percent of France’s electricity needs are met by nuclear power. The EU average is little more than thirty percent. Finland, Lithuania, Romania and Bulgaria are working on new reactors. Although these reactors emit relatively little carbon dioxide, used fuel is another environmental problem, therefore public opinion is strongly anti-nuclear in several countries. Greenpeace clean energy campaigner Frauke Thies disagrees with the German chancellor’s pro-nuclear stance.