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All-time High Wind Energy: France to Produce Over 30 Per Cent More Wind Power in 2023

Paris, France - France produced and fed more wind power into the grid in 2023 than ever before. In addition to the expansion of onshore wind energy, offshore wind energy is also gaining momentum.

In the public perception, France's energy policy is still mainly associated with discussions about nuclear energy. Nevertheless, the French expansion of renewable energies is taking place more in the background, but the pace of expansion and impact is significantly higher than that of nuclear energy.

Wind power production in France rises to a new record level in 2023

Wind power plants in France generated a total of 48 billion kWh of electricity in 2023 (2022: 36.6 billion kWh) and fed it into the grids. According to data from the European grid operators (Entso-e), this is an increase of 31.1 per cent compared to the previous year and a new annual record. One reason for the high increase is the addition and commissioning of more than 2,500 MW (2.5 GW) of wind power capacity in France last year. According to the French grid operator RTE, wind turbines with a capacity of over 23,000 MW (23 GW) were already in operation as of 1 October 2023 (end of 2022: 20,500 GW).

In addition to the expansion of onshore wind energy, offshore wind energy is also gaining momentum in France. According to Entso-e data, the first offshore wind power was fed into the French grid (362 MW) on 1 June 2023. The previous all-time high for offshore wind energy dates back to 29 October 2023, when French offshore wind turbines already produced electricity with an output of 698 MW. Further offshore wind farms will go into operation in 2024 and in the coming years. In November 2023, French President Macron announced the tendering of 10,000 MW (10 GW) of offshore wind power capacity. This could increase offshore wind power capacity to around 18,000 MW (18 GW) by 2035.

Expansion of nuclear energy too slow - a maximum of one new nuclear power plant in operation by 2035

While the expansion of renewable energies in France can proceed at a rapid pace, the expansion of nuclear energy in France is barely making any headway. With the Flamanville nuclear power plant (1,650 MW), only one new nuclear power plant is under construction - and that since 2007. The latest date given by EDF for the commissioning of Flamanville is the first quarter of 2024, which would be a record construction period of 17 years.

Due to the long construction times of nuclear power plants (10 - 15 years) and the fact that France has not yet started any new nuclear power plant construction, no further nuclear power plant is expected to be commissioned in France before 2035. To make matters worse, the EPR successor model, the EPR-2, is already to be built at the three sites now planned for six new nuclear power plants. With the modified design, the EPR-2 is being announced as a simplified model of the EPR reactor, but in reality the EPR-2 will initially be another prototype. It is apparently not without reason that EDF has announced that the planned six new nuclear power plants will be built one after the other and not at the same time.

Source: IWR Online, 19 Jan 2024