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POWER GENERATION
CHOICES: ANTICIPATING AND
CONTROLLING
TECHNOLOGICAL, TECHNICAL
AND FINANCIAL RISKS
STRUCTURAL ISSUES
FOR FRANCE
NOVEMBER 2021
2
CONTENTS
5
NOTICE
7
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
9
INTRODUCTION
11
1 - AN POWER GENERATION BASE LARGELY DUE
FOR RENEWAL IN THE NEXT TWO DECADES
11
A - A predominantly nuclear plant fleet whose development must be
brought forward
13
B - Long lead times for construction of production means
14
C - Renewal of the nuclear fleet,but how big does it need to be?
16
2 - HAZARDS AND ISSUES OF RENEWAL
16
A - A future generation mix associated with technological challenges
18
B - Renewal procedures that call for additional investment
19
C - Consequences in terms of industry, training, employment and regional
planning
20
3 - MORE INFORMED CHOICES, GREATER DETERMINATION
21
A - The necessary planning of the stages of this renewal
22
B - Documenting the cost of a future electricity mix and the financial
consequences for the State
23
C - Choices to be debated, then implemented
24
REFERENCES TO THE WORK OF THE COURT OF ACCOUNTS
3
WARNING
This document forms part of a body of work intended to present, in relation to several
major public policies, the main challenges that public decision-makers will face in the coming
years and the tools that could be used to tackle them. This series of publications, which runs
from October to December 2021, follows on from the report submitted in June 2021 to the
President of the Republic,
A public finance strategy to exit the crisis.
This summary work aims
to develop, in relation to a few essential structural issues, diagnostic elements resulting from
previous work by the Court and avenues of action capable of consolidating long-term growth
while strengthening the equity and efficiency of public policies.
The Court, in accordance with its constitutional mission of informing citizens, hoped to
develop a new approach, one that is different from its usual work, and thus contribute, through
this series of deliberately concise and targeted documents, to the public debate, while taking
care to leave open various possible avenues for reform.
This document was deliberated by the 2
nd
chamber and approved by the publication and
planning committee of the Court of Accounts.
The publications of the Court of Accounts are accessible online on the website of the
Court and the regional and territorial chambers of accounts: www.ccomptes.fr
4
ABSTRACT
Around 70% of France’s power is now
generated by the fleet of nuclear reactors. EDF
plans to extend the lifespan of at least some of its nuclear power plants to 60 years. However,
this fleet will have largely ceased production by 2050, calling for the renewal of a significant
part of the electricity generation capacity and considerable investment.
In order to meet France’s environmental commitments, only so
-
called “low
-
carbon”
means (nuclear, hydroelectric and new renewables) are now being considered. Today, the
construction of these new generation means takes a long time. It therefore calls for now urgent
decisions to be made to guarantee our supply by the decade 2040, especially since the
development of electricity uses (mobility, industry, heating, etc.) could significantly increase
our electricity consumption, despite the necessary efforts in energy efficiency and sobriety.
Renewal of the French nuclear fleet constitutes a technological, technical and industrial
challenge. The various components of a future fleet will also determine new needs, particularly
in terms of networks and radioactive waste storage, which must also be anticipated. Finally,
the repercussions in terms of jobs and regional planning are added to the competitiveness
challenges for our country. The choices that need to be made will therefore have
consequences for decades to come, making it all the more necessary to hold a debate on
possible energy scenarios, on better informed bases, in particular through an analysis of costs.
Key figures:
Almost
70%
of power is now generated by nuclear reactors.
Two-thirds of the nuclear reactors currently in operation will have reached their
60th
anniversary
by the 2040s.
Construction times for new means of generation vary between
8 and 15 years old
depending on the technology (onshore wind, offshore wind or nuclear).
Electricity consumption could increase from around
475 TWh to 650 TWh
in 2050
due to the electrification of uses.
5
INTRODUCTION
The construction and operation of power plants result, at least in part, from societal
choices in favour or against certain generation technologies, and from the desired distribution
of risks in terms of safety and security, guaranteed availability, technological uncertainty, cost
and price issues and the financial capacity of stakeholders. These major decisions can also
be informed by an analysis of the cost of the electricity mix resulting from the shares of each
of its components and the intensity of their use throughout the year.
Electricity generation in our country, in the region of 530 to 550 TWh a year over the past
few years (500 TWh for 2020), is approximately 70% ensured by the nuclear plants.
Commissioned for the most part at the end of the 1970s and in the 1980s, it is today composed
of 56 reactors. The remainder comes from hydroelectric dams, new renewable energies such
as onshore wind (and soon offshore wind) and photovoltaic solar, from fossil fuel-fired
production from gas and increasingly residually from coal or fuel oil, and marginally from
bioenergy. It is mainly provided by the EDF Group and covers all of the year-round needs of
our country while ensuring an export balance of 50 to 70 TWh per year.
The in-service nuclear plant pool, which is currently anticipated to last up to 60 years, is
expected to be largely shut down by 2050. Our generation facilities will therefore have to be
substantially renewed in about twenty years and for several decades (I). The new power
generation fleet, whatever it is made up of, will have to meet technological challenges and will
have serious consequences for the adaptation of the networks, the structuring of industry,
employment and the regions (II). The current energy programme does not sufficiently inform
the decisions to come. These choices must be debated and then implemented resolutely, by
identifying the critical milestones (III).
1 - AN ELECTRICITY GENERATION BASE LARGELY DUE FOR
RENEWAL IN THE NEXT TWO DECADES
Due to the foreseeable end of life of in-service
nuclear reactors, our country’s current
electricity generation fleet will have to be largely renewed within the next twenty years. In order
to meet France’s environmental commitments, only so
-
called “low
-
carbon” means (nuclear,
hydraulic and new renewables) are now being considered by energy planning for the
installation of new electricity generation capacities. Taking construction times into account,
clear decisions, which will be binding on the country in the long term, will have to be taken in
the coming years.
6
A - A predominantly nuclear plant fleet whose development must be
brought forward
The majority of nuclear reactors were commissioned between 1977 and 1987. EDF plans
to extend the life of at least some of its plants to 60 years. Whatever the shutdown trajectory
implemented and the actual share of nuclear power in 2035 in relation to a 50% cap
established by the Energy-Climate Law No. 2019-1147 of 8 November 2019, these plants will
therefore have largely ceased production by 2047. The fact that nuclear plants represent 70%
of the power generation therefore requires special attention.
Diagram 1: composition of the 2019 electricity mix (share of energy produced):
Source: RTE (electricity transmission network operator)
So far, extending the reactors
’ lifespan
to 50 and then 60 years cannot be taken for
granted, as the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) regularly emphasises. It depends on
ASN validation of the ten-yearly inspections of each of the reactors after 40 and then 50 years
of operation. Today, only the extension to 50 years of the PWR 900 type reactors has been
initiated (see ASN decision of 23 February 2021).
Extending the operating life
of nuclear power plants
In France, there is no legislative or regulatory framework for the operating life of nuclear
plants. However, they are subject to a periodic review every 10 years, under Articles L.593-18
and L.593-19 of the French Environmental Code. For industrial optimisation reasons, EDF
combines this periodic review with other technical requirements, as well as with the realisation
of maintenance investments, which gives rise to a prolonged shutdown of the reactors known
as a “ten
-yearly in-
service inspection”.
Operation beyond 60 years is currently not envisaged. RTE nonetheless retains the
hypothesis, in one of the six scenarios in its Energy Futures 2050 report published on 25
October 2021, of an extension of certain reactors beyond 60 years as long as they meet safety
standards, while stressing that this is reliant on a major technological achievement. In the
United States, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved the extension to 80
years of four reactors, Turkey Point 3 and 4, and Surry 1 and 2.
7
From this point of view, the fact that the choices with regard to the electricity mix were
not made ten years ago already requires integration, as provided for in the multiannual energy
programme (PPE) adopted in March 2020, of the need for some plants to be extended to up
to 60 years, with the constraints in terms of safety and the risks associated to the undergoing
fifth ten-yearly in-service inspection.
In any event, the early dates for the initial commissioning of the nuclear plant fleet
concentrate its shutdown over a short period, resulting in a “cliff
-
edge effect”, as
shown in the
graph below, regardless of the scenario adopted.
Graph 1: evolution of the power of second generation reactors (excluding EPRs)
according to different reactor closure scenarios (MW):
Reading notes: for the EDF industrial scenario, the precise closing dates were assumed by the Court while respecting the
objectives set out in this scenario
Source: Court of Accounts
8
B - Long construction times for generation means
The renewal by the 2040s of a large part of our country’s power generation capacity will
represent a considerable investment, hundreds of billions of euros covering generation means
and additional investments in terms of networks and storage of electricity or radioactive waste.
The recent past shows that the construction of new means of power generation takes a
long time in our country, whatever the technology used: more than 15 years for the EPR,
between 7 and 9 years for onshore wind farms, a minimum of 11 years for the first offshore
wind farms. These construction times, which we can hope to reduce in the future, are also
significant for the associated infrastructures: 5 to 10 years for high voltage lines, 4 to 7 years
for power substations, etc.
The electricity mix beyond 2040 and how it can be achieved is therefore a major issue
for the coming years. Decisions now need to be taken urgently to secure our supply within this
time frame.
C - Renewal of the generation mix, but how big does it need to be?
The sizing of the generation fleet for after 2040 remains uncertain: although electricity
consumption in our country has been fairly constant over the last period, there is uncertainty
as to what it will be in 20 to 30 years, under the effect of growth, demographics and especially
the encouraged development of electricity uses (mobility, industry, heating, etc.) with regard
to the 2050 carbon neutrality target.
As such, having the necessary generation capacity for low-carbon electricity by this
deadline is an environmental and climatic issue, not only for the electricity sector, but also for
the transport, industry and construction sectors.
An increase of 20 or 30% in the need for electricity by 2040 or 2050 would thus
significantly increase the size of the future generation fleet. The national low-carbon strategy
reflects this anticipation of the electrification of uses by counting on an electricity demand by
2050 of 650 TWh.
Conversely, greatly increased energy efficiency and sobriety would significantly reduce
this additional need. In any case, a sharp increase in the share of electricity in the energy mix
is anticipated.
This sizing depends, moreover, on the desire to maintain and the possibility of
maintaining an export balance of around 50 to 70 TWh per year, as has been the case in the
past few years. A balance brought back to equilibrium would offset part of any additional
consumption.
9
Map 1: level of trade with border countries:
Sources: RTE, Electricity Report 2020
The development of our future electricity mix will therefore have to take into account the
options retained by our neighbours with regard to the development of their own long-term
generation facilities as illustrated in the graph below, on which the continuation, or not, of an
electricity export situation will in part depend.
10
Graph 2: illustration of the electricity mixes in 2040 for Germany, Spain and Great
Britain:
Source: RTE, Public consultation on the framework and assumptions of the scenarios of the “Energy Futures 2050” long
-term
forecast, based on the scenarios developed by the association of European electricity network operators ENTSO-E
Interconnections are in any event essential for ensuring the permanent supply/demand
balance, for protecting our consumption from unforeseen events (accidents, natural disasters,
etc.) and in particular for avoiding subjecting the industrial sector to a risk of supply shortages.
Such a risk could result in a much greater ne
ed for load shedding in industry and, what’s more,
a price risk, depending on fluctuations in the electricity markets in Europe.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding our electricity needs, it will be appropriate during the
period 2022-2027 to make and assume structural choices at least for the period 2040-2070,
and potentially for 2040-2100. Indeed, the renewed electricity generation fleet would commit
our country for several decades, for approximately60 years in the case of new nuclear reactors,
and from 25 to 30 years for generation means based on renewable energies.
These choices in the short term will therefore be structuring in the long term, as were
those of the 1960s and 1970s with regard to the current nuclear fleet. Naturally, by 2040 or
2050, it is likely that technological innovations
and perhaps even leaps
or events will occur
that were not anticipated, like the development of offshore wind technology in the 1960s. In
view of the time constraints for the construction of a new plant fleet, these technological and
sizing uncertainties do not, however, allow these choices to be put off.
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2 - HAZARDS AND ISSUES OF RENEWAL
The large-scale construction of new nuclear capacities presupposes overcoming the
difficulties encountered so far on EPR sites in Europe, or, where appropriate, being able to
develop new SMR (
Small Modular Reactor
) type technologies in the short term. The use of
new renewable energies in a very large proportion and even more exclusively would only be
possible by overcoming the difficulties arising from their variability. These different components
of a future plant fleet, and their proportions, will also determine the additional technical needs,
in terms of networks, storage, management of nuclear fuel and waste, etc., which will have to
be anticipated a long time in advance. Finally, the repercussions in terms of industry, training
needs, jobs and regional planning are added to the competitiveness challenges for our country.
A - A future generation mix associated with technological challenges
The attention now paid to climate change and the search for carbon neutrality by 2050
restricts the possible choices, since electricity generation is already carbon-free to a large
extent in our country. Large-scale recourse to the simplest technological solutions (coal or
fossil gas power plants) would therefore be incompatible with our international and European
commitments. As such, the closure of coal-fired power stations and the end of the construction
of new gas-fired power stations are now in effect. As for hydropower, our country has long
benefited from significant facilities, which can only be supplemented to a limited extent and
whose generation capacity could be affected in the long term by climate change.
For the nuclear technology, the drift in construction times for the Flamanville EPR, which
will have taken at least eleven years longer than expected, and in its cost, initially estimated at
€3
billion, but estimated by the Court in July 2020 at over €19
billion (the differences are of the
same order for the Olkiluoto EPR in Finland), reflects the increased complexity of reactors
incorporating safety reinforcement constraints following the Chernobyl and then the Fukushima
accidents. This leads to uncertainty in terms of the ability to build a new fleet of reactors on
time and at a reasonable cost. The launch of six EPR2s, a new model which has not yet been
signed off by ASN, but which the Government has asked EDF to prepare, was subject to the
effective entry into service of Flamanville, which will not take place before 2023. If the decision
were taken, the commisioning of these six EPR2s, for which the construction cost estimated
by EDF is €46
billion, would be phased in between 2035 and the early 2040s.
However, maintaining a 50% nuclear share in the production of electricity projected by
the national low-carbon strategy beyond 2050 would require ultimately not having seven EPRs
or EPR2s, but 25 to 30 in the event that the reactors currently in operation would almost all be
shut down by this time. Building such a large number of EPR2s in around thirty years would
require, in addition to the measures already taken recently (see
EDF’s Excell plan presented
in December 2019), an accelerated mobilisation and recovery effort in our nuclear industry.
The question of the number of available sites could also arise, as climate change can make
the installation of sites along rivers more complicated.
In addition, the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), EDF, Naval Group and
TechnicAtome are working on the Nuward SMR (Small Modular Reactor) project. Of more
limited power (170 MW per unit, in the context of a paired installation, so 340 MW in total), it
could be more easily duplicated and installed. However, there is no hope of it being developed
and of reasonable costs being obtained within the next decade. In its Energy Futures 2050
12
report, RTE nevertheless considers, in one of its six scenarios, the hypothesis of development
of SMRs for a cumulative power of 4,000 MW, instead of several EPR2s.
The challenges to be met appear to be just as sizeable for new renewable energies.
There is certainly no technological uncertainty for the generation facilities themselves, which,
on the contrary, are increasing year after year, with the average power of onshore or offshore
wind turbines increasing regularly, for example, as is the efficiency of photovoltaic solar panels.
However, a very large-scale development, in a 100% renewable scenario, or involving only a
small part of nuclear power or other controllable means, would require overcoming the
difficulties arising from the variability of their production by defining affordable methods of
storage, as highlighted in the RTE-AIE progress report on a 100% renewable scenario in 2050.
This scenario would also run the risk of encountering implementation difficulties due to
geographic or regulatory constraints, or even social acceptability difficulties, both for onshore
wind power and for offshore wind farms off the French coast, and, to a lesser extent, conflicts
of use with the agricultural sector for very large ground-based solar power plants.
Regarding the replacement of fossil gas by green gas as a means of producing
electricity, the question of the cost and limits of biogas production would be raised, as would
the relevance of its use to produce electricity rather than being injected into the gas network
or supplying bus or truck fleets operating local services. Finally, the use of hydrogen as a
means of generation and storage, which can only be envisaged if it is produced by a process
that is itself carbon-free, requires increased means of electricity generation.
These different difficulties are not insurmountable for our country, but resolving them
presupposes, in all cases, both clear choices and real commitment from all stakeholders.
B - Renewal conditions that call for additional investment
It is all the more necessary to make choices on the energy mix quickly as other “technical”
decisions will follow.
With regard to the
“traditional” aspects relating to operation of a large electrical system,
it should first be noted that the network of very high voltage (VHV) lines will, if necessary, have
to be adapted to connect new generation sites, in particular offshore wind farms, or even
nuclear reactors that would be built on new sites, as well as to adapt to concurrent shutdowns
(needing an anticipation of more than 10 years).
The extent of the need for additional interconnections, beyond those already scheduled (see
map below) could also vary significantly depending on the proportion of the mix that is
“controllable”. A very large share of renewable energies in electricity
generation would make
it necessary, in addition to storage methods, to increase the capacity for exchanges with our
neighbours. From this point of view, our country’s geographical position and the diversity of
its generation methods are real assets
13
Map 2: planned development of interconnections:
Source: RTE, 2020 Electricity Report, ten-year network development plan 2019
Finally, the new renewable onshore wind and photovoltaic solar energies must be
connected, not to the VHV network, but to the distribution network. The adaptation needs of
this distribution network will vary considerably depending on the share of these new renewable
energies.
Renewal of the generation fleet could finally raise more specific questions: new nuclear
reactors, which would operate until 2100, would entail a need to manage their spent fuel. This
would imply either renewing the La Hague fuel reprocessing plant (in the event of continued
use of the plutonium resulting from this reprocessing in so-
called “MOX” fuels by adapting the
new reactors to this use) and creating new radioactive waste storage and then disposal sites
or proposing another way of managing spent fuel and waste, that would represent, in this latter
case, a much greater volume.
C - Consequences in terms of industry, training, employment and
regional planning
The sectors concerned in our country need visibility to benefit from renewal of the plant
fleet or to adapt to it.
The nuclear sector represents 200,000 jobs in France, divided between more than 2,000
companies, constituting the third largest French industrial sector behind aerospace and
14
automotive. In addition, the presence of a civil nuclear industry is not without impact on our
military resources.
New renewable energies correspond to around ten different industrial sectors, for a total
of around 60,000 jobs excluding hydropower. However, the development of onshore wind
power and photovoltaic solar power in our country has only very partially resulted in an
increase in manufacturing jobs for these facilities, even if the development of jobs in renewable
energies over the last decade has been mainly driven by new electric renewable energies. On
the other hand, offshore wind farms have led to the creation of plants in Saint-Nazaire, Le
Havre and Cherbourg.
Graph 3: evolution of employment in renewable energies between 2004 and 2017:
Reading note: These jobs cover the activities of manufacturing, installing and maintaining equipment (wind turbines, heat
pumps, photovoltaic panels, etc.) and the sale of energy.
Source: Ministry of Ecological Transition, Key figures for renewable energies, 2020
In general, for all means of production, changes in training needs and jobs, in order to
build, operate and maintain these new facilities, will depend greatly on the choices that are
made. Clear and quick choices, guiding long-term developments, would promote the most
positive consequences in terms of industry and jobs.
15
The impact of these decisions will also be significant for each of the territories concerned,
in a more global perspective of regional planning, whether in the construction of production
facilities or their maintenance. The regional distribution of jobs will vary greatly depending on
the choices that are made.
3 - MORE INFORMED CHOICES, GREATER DETERMINATION
The extent of the need to renew the current plant fleet in the next twenty years, the
technological and technical challenges still to be met, the consequences of the choices to
come in terms of additional equipment, industrial sectors, jobs and regional impact, make it all
the more necessary to hold a debate, on better informed bases, before making decisions,
which must then be implemented resolutely, by identifying critical milestones.
A - The necessary planning of the stages of this renewal
Renewal of the plant fleet takes time, and therefore requires an ability to anticipate, which
is not guaranteed, at the 2045-2050 horizon, by the multiannual energy programme (PPE).
The PPE traces an intermediate path to reach a 50% limitation of the share of nuclear
power by 2035 and the gradual increase in new renewable energies, but it does not indicate
what generation facilities will be involved beyond the decommissing of the current reactor fleet.
Strengthening the part of the national low-carbon strategy devoted to the prospects for
evolution of the generation mix could make it possible to outline a long-term trajectory
necessary for the planning of investments.
With regard to the current PPE, the progression of renewable energies is already lagging
behind, and the precise sequence of reactor closures to reach 50% by 2035 has not officially
been decided on. As RTE recently underlined in its last review of the electricity supply-demand
balance, a watchful eye is currently being kept on security of supply, and simply achieving the
renewable energy targets would require a sharp acceleration in the annual rate of
commissioning of these new means of generation. This is particularly the case for the offshore
wind or photovoltaic solar sectors, as the following graph illustrates for the latter.
16
Graph 4: evolution of the photovoltaic solar sector:
Source: Court of Accounts, based on Eurostat data
It is in this context that the government asked RTE at the end of 2019 to work on 2050
scenarios, to identify all the technological, technical, environmental and societal aspects to be
taken into consideration. The work presented in the Energy Futures 2050 report still need to
be incorporated, after an open debate, into government planning.
B - Documenting the cost of a future electricity mix
and the financial consequences for the State
The choice of the next electricity mix by 2040 should also be better informed by an
analysis of costs.
With regard to the unit costs of the different technologies and how they evolve in the next
20 or 30 years, there is great uncertainty about non-mature technologies, such as new nuclear
or storage facilities, and also about the pace and extent of the reduction in costs for wind and
photovoltaic solar.
17
In addition, there is a significant difference between the unit costs of each technology
and the costs of the resulting electricity mix, depending, in particular, on the share of each of
these technologies and the additional elements that arise from these choices on the relative
shares.
However, for now, planning does not rely sufficiently on comparisons of the costs of
various scenarios. The second PPE proposes a trajectory for the mix by 2035, without at
present assessing longer-
term cost elements. RTE’s Energy Futures 2050 report should serve
as a basis for better analysis of the cost of the electricity mix.
In addition, EDF will not be able to finance the construction of new reactors on its own,
as it must already bear the cost of extending the
nuclear reactors’ lifespan
and the “post
Fukushima” safety investments,
face the future costs of decommissiong and the uncertain
evolution of regulated access to historic nuclear power in place since 2011, and has already
amassed a
debt of €42
billion. To be successful, the investment effort would imply sharing the
risks with the State. The budgetary consequences must be anticipated, in a context where the
restructuring of the nuclear sector has already recently led the State to mobilise significant
public aid.
At the same time, the development of new renewable energies has so far represented a
substantial budgetary cost: support for electric renewables through guaranteed tariffs
accounted for €5,611.7
million in spending in 2020. In addition, the 2020 State accounts
identify €113,870
million in commitm
ents under the “Energy transition” special allocation
account, which mainly traces commitments in terms of support for electric renewable energies
(including cogeneration and bio-methane). While these renewables can gradually develop
under market conditions, vigilance remains necessary. The PPE has thus assessed the
amount of new support commitments for renewable energies at between €19.2
billion and
€33.4
billion to achieve the 2028 objectives.
There is thus a significant risk for public finances, either in terms of the State shareholder,
or in terms of support mechanisms for generation, storage or load reduction. An electricity mix
must be chosen taking these constraints into account: depending on the assumptions made
for the relative share of the different technologies and the remuneration modes for these
(guaranteed tariffs or electricity markets revenues only), generation costs will be covered in
different proportions by consumer bills and taxes. In any case, an increased effort in energy
efficiency and sobriety would limit the risks weighing on public finances.
C - Choices to be debated, then implemented
In a context where there is no simple decision, no low-cost solution and no zero risk, it
is necessary, as the Court has pointed out, to define an electricity mix strategy, to anticipate
and accept the consequences, then to implement it in an organised fashion. Holding an
informed and democratic debate would encourage choices to be made with full knowledge of
the facts and then followed up over time.
The 2019 Energy-Climate Law introduced Article L.100-1 A of the French Energy Code,
which provides that: “B
efore 1 July 2023, then every five years, a law sets the objectives and
priority actions of the national energy policy to respond to the ecological and climate
emergency.
[…], the multiannual energy programming mentioned in Article L.141
-1 of this code
and the low-carbon strategy mentioned in Article L.222-1 B of the French Environmental Code
are subject to appropriate prior consultation, the terms and conditions of which are defined by
18
regulation. This consultation cannot be organised concurrently with the examination by
Parliament of the bill or the proposed law provided for in point I of this Article”.
The parliamentary debate to be held in 2023 on the occasion of the adoption of the
programming law is therefore of major strategic importance. It is important to prepare as
thoroughly as possible the orientation of energy investments in our country for the decades to
come, the consequences of which will be borne by all French people.
As there is no room for manoeuvre on deadlines, the path that will be taken will have to
identify the most important stages for its implementation. These include the timely construction
of the central storage pool, which is necessary for the continued operation of the current
nuclear plant pool, the ability to extend certain reactors from 40 to 50 and then 60 years, the
availability of reasonably priced electricity storage technologies, the ability to build any EPR2s
on time, the level of demand for hydrogen and development of Power-to-X, the development
at the announced rate of border electricity mixes, the completion on the scheduled dates of
additional interconnections and, finally, the start of the Cigeo radioactive waste disposal
project.
Having to respect the objective of carbon neutrality by 2050, the necessary renewal in
the long term of the electricity generation base, which today is mainly nuclear, calls for
anticipation given the technological, technical, industrial and financial challenges involved.
The choice of an electricity mix is made, moreover, in a context of strong uncertainty,
both on the development of the technologies themselves and their costs, and on changes in
demand, taking into account the shift of uses towards electricity, but also energy efficiency and
sobriety objectives, which are in any case necessary to reduce the risks in terms of security of
supply and the cost for public finances and consumers.
The democratic debate which must be held on the subject can be usefully informed by
the comparison of different scenarios illustrating the field of possibilities as well as the
sensitivity of the results to the different variables.
19
REFERENCES TO THE WORK
OF THE COURT OF ACCOUNTS
The Court has carried out a great deal of work in recent years on which it has relied,
in particular the following publications:
Réseau de transport d’électricité (RTE)
(Electricity transmission network (RTE)), final
observations, October 2021;
Enedis : contrôle des comptes et de la gestion
(Enedis: account and management
control), final observations, May 2021;
Compte
d’affectation spéciale « transition énergétique »
(“Energy transition” special
allocation account), analysis of 2020 budget execution, April 2021;
La filière EPR
(The EPR sector), thematic public report, July 2020;
L’arrêt et le démantèlement des installat
ions nucléaires
(The shutdown and
dismantling of nuclear installations), communication to the Senate finance committee,
March 2020;
L’aval du cycle de combustible nucléaire
(The back-end nuclear fuel cycle), thematic
public report, July 2019;
Le soutien aux énergies renouvelables
(Support for renewable energies),
communication to the Senate finance committee, April 2018;
L’évaluation de la mise en œuvre de l’accès régulé à l’électricité nucléaire historique
(ARENH)
(Assessment of the implementation of regulated access to historic nuclear
electricity (ARENH)), observations to the minister, March 2018.
The Court of Accounts also sent its final observations to the audited bodies on the
following subject:
L’analyse des coûts du système de production électrique e
n France
(Analysis of the
costs of the electricity production system in France), final observations, 2021.
The publications of the Court of Accounts are available on the website:
www.ccomptes.fr
20
STRUCTURAL ISSUES
FOR FRANCE
NOVEMBER 2021