France’s Plan for Renewable Energy in Urban Areas

In a February speech, French President Emmanuel Macron honored the country’s industrial past while prioritizing its renewable energy-based future.

Speaking in Belfort, France, a city well-known for its engineering industry based on turbines and railways, Macron discussed his goal to increase the country’s capacity for renewable power 10-fold and become carbon neutral by 2050.

It’s part of an overall $1 billion “France 2030” investment plan centered on renewable energy projects to address the ever-present climate crisis. It also showcases France’s commitment to energy transition outlined in 2015’s Paris Agreement.

USA Clean Energy Association discusses below France’s Plan, Macron’s speech, and clean energy initiatives.

Renewable Energy Targets

France’s energy plan for the future is already taking shape. In late November, it approved legislation requiring lots with more than 80 parking spaces to be covered by solar panels.

According to the French government, this plan may generate 11 gigawatts of power, the same amount needed to power millions of homes and the amount of power created by 10 nuclear reactors.

The government also plans to pursue installing solar panels on highway-adjacent vacant land and agricultural spaces.

It’s just the beginning. France wants to install 190,000 square meters of solar panels in over 150 railway stations by 2025. By 2030, it wants 1.1 million square meters in place. The goal: a 25% reduction in energy consumption.

Changing the Status Quo

Macron’s goals are ambitious and considered lofty by his critics. In its commitment to renewables, France has pledged to up its renewable energy share to 32% of its total energy consumption.

It also wants to increase the share of total renewable energy production to 40%. In an earlier renewable energy pledge, France missed its goal of increasing its renewables share to 23% in 2020, missing it by nearly 4%.

About 50% of the country’s renewable energy output comes from decades-old hydropower plants. Nearly 72% of France’s total energy production is through nuclear energy, with fossil fuels and renewable energy accounting for 18%.

To hit the 2050 goal, its renewable energy output needs to not only diversify but become more efficient.

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Other Initiatives

France has invested heavily in offshore wind farms. In September, it installed 80 offshore wind turbines off its western coast, and by the end of the year, it hopes to have its first-ever offshore wind farm running in Saint Nazaire.

That wind farm is expected to produce power to fill the needs of about 700,000 residents or 20% of the area’s energy consumption needs. It took nearly 10 years to launch.

Developing other sources of clean energy is a major goal within France’s urban environments. Gas and oil account for 2/3 of France’s total energy consumption, and it is reportedly looking into how to shift to alternatives such as hydrogen fuel and other low-carbon fuels.

Macron has further pledged that in the near future France will abandon coal, gas, and oil as energy sources. If that happens, it will become the first major nation to do so.

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