“Energy security: rethinking the european energy market”

Our Director General Valerie Faudon was invited to speak in Vienna by the at theevent :  “Energy security: rethinking the european energy market”

  1. Our long-term goal is to exit fossil fuels by 2050

Fossil fuels still represent 70% of our energy consumption in the EU. We must align our short term goals (managing the current crisis) with our long-term goals of:

  • Energy independence: as an example, the 2022 invoice in France for oil & gas imports will be 100Bn€. By comparison, it will be less than 1Bn€ for Uranium imports.
  • Carbon neutrality most net zero scenarios estimate electricity should be half of our energy consumption by 2050. In France our national 2050 scenario says we should decrease by 40% our total energy consumption and increase our electricity consumption by 35%.
  1. 100% renewable strategy is a risky strategy

We are facing uncertainties about first our ability to deploy wind and solar at the required pace, as well as the electricity transport and distribution infrastructure needed (permitting issues).  We are also facing uncertainties about the availability of storage technology (orders of magnitude) and demand flexibility. If we do not deploy wind and solar fast enough, or we do not have the flexibility we need, our only choice will be to build new gas plants again.

We are at risk of replacing our dependencies from fossil fuels by new dependencies.

  • First a dependencies on minerals: IEA, in a May 2021 report mentioned that demand for critical materials may increase by a factor 4 by 2040 (SDS scenario) driven by the development of the electrical vehicle but also by the development of clean electricity infrastructure. The quantities of materials needed for 1MW have already increased by 50% since 2010.
  • We are also at risk of creating a new dependency on imported renewable hydrogen. As part of Repower Europe, we have set goals for 2030 which are 10MtH2 produced in EU and 10MtH2. Our projected regulation is late, complex (10 different ones) and tends to exclude low-carbon hydrogen produced with nuclear. This is to be compared with the US which have set, through the Inflation act, a very simple package which is technology neutral: the less CO2 emissions, the more tax credit
  1. Nuclear is part of the solution

Nuclear is low carbon: the IPCC 2014 report establishes the average global lifecycle emissions for nuclear at 12gCO2/kwh, vs. 1000g for coal plants, and 450g for gas plants. In France, a recent 2-year study by EDF has concluded for emissions as low as 4g/kWh, thanks to the use of low-carbon electricity for enrichment.

Nuclear is dispatchable. Ten years ago we thought the smart grids would solve the problem. But we have made little progress. With the current crisis, we realize that we will still need a significant share of dispatchable technologies in the electricity mix. Actually, the larger the share of solar and wind in the electricity system, the more value nuclear will bring into the network.  ■

By Sfen

Photo : United Europe