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Does France Need Windmills?

The French Law on Energy Transition for Green Growth (LTECV) stipulates that the share of nuclear in electricity generation, currently 71%, be reduced to 50% by 2035, and the loss compensated by the development of “renewable energies” (principally wind).

The energy transition policy purports to counter climate change by reducing CO2 emissions. But the replacement of nuclear energy, which emits hardly any CO2, by the intermittent “renewable” energies, is likely to increase CO2 emissions because the intermittent sources need backup from an dispatchable source. This means either increasing the use of CO2-emitting fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) or subjecting the population to blackouts and brownouts during hours when demand is high and the wind is still.

If solar and wind energies enjoy a positive image in France, this is due to ignorance reinforced by industrial and financial interests. The government, drifting with popular prejudice, has decreed measures that do not make sense, either environmentally or financially. If this policy is not reexamined, France, like Germany, risks wasting countless billions of euros in taxpayers’ money, while filling the landscape with thousands of ineffective wind turbines and aggravating global warming, before the error is eventually realised and rectified.

A group of concerned French citizens have formed a Study Circle on Ecological Realities and Energy Mix (Cercle d’Étude Réalités Écologiques et Mix Énergétique - CEREME) to disseminate expert studies and stimulate a debate on the issue. CEREME calls for an “open, objective and dispassionate approach to the consequences of renewable energies, particularly wind power.”

On 24 July, CEREME published an “Open Letter for a Citizen Debate on Wind Energy” in the newspaper Le Monde. CEREME observes that

“Replacing nuclear power, an energy that emits virtually no carbon, with wind and solar power, which are by nature random and intermittent, will lead to an inevitable increase in our CO2 emissions, contrary to an unfortunately common belief.

“In order to cope with the production troughs of long periods without sufficient wind or sun, on average 5 days out of 7, it will indeed be necessary to build new gas-fired power plants - which emit a lot of CO2 - or to import massively electricity from the thermal power plants of our neighbours, which emit just as much CO2.”

and adds,

“By making the security of France's electricity supply dependent on the intensity of the wind or the sun, we are obliged to import large quantities of electricity at high prices, particularly during peak consumption periods in winter, when we were a very competitive electricity exporter. We will also have to practice "erasure", a technocratic term for negotiated or imposed power cuts that will put France partly "in the dark", with all the associated social and economic consequences.”

CEREME concludes,

“Pending the outcome of this debate, a moratorium must be decreed on all wind and solar power projects not yet launched, to prevent irreversible worsening of the effects on the climate, to stop financial waste and to preserve the national interest and the exceptional heritage of our landscapes.”

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