France may be the world’s most nuclear energy dependent country, but times are changing. When French President François Hollande took the reins of power in 2012 he pledged to reduce the country’s nuclear dependency from 75 percent to 50 percent by 2025.
Today, France has a goal of reaching 19 GW of wind energy by 2020, up from its current level of 8.2 GW, according to the European Wind Energy Association’s (EWEA) latest statistics. This will significantly raise the percentage of wind powered electricity in the country from the 3% wind covers today. And, according to a very recent survey, the French are behind this transition.
Some 64 percent of French people see wind energy as a solution, among others, in the context of the energy transition, says a CSA survey published in March 2014. Moreover, 80 percent of the 1010 respondents consider it necessary to invest in wind without waiting for the traditional power plants to reach the end of their lifecycle.
65 percent of those surveyed said that they would invest in renewable energy (wind and solar/photovoltaic) today if they had to personally invest in one energy source, while 15 percent chose nuclear, 7 percent chose gas and 1 percent chose coal. Meanwhile, 69 percent of French people would choose wind energy if they had to choose one energy type to be constructed in their region. 75 percent chose solar, 21 percent chose nuclear, 16 percent chose gas and 4 percent chose gas.
In short, the results show that the French are aware that an energy transition must take place, they are confident enough in renewables to invest if they could, and they know that the time to act is now. Next year is a key year for energy decision-makers in France since both the UN summit on climate change will take place in Paris, and, just two weeks before, EWEA will host is internationally-renowned annual event EWEA 2015 from 17-20 November in the same city. The event is set to be a platform for the wind energy industry to make its climate-friendly technology solutions known to global leaders at the UN summit.
France’s opinions on wind power sit well with Europe-wide opinion polls on wind energy, as detailed by EWEA. EWEA believes that wind energy delivers a multitude of benefits to communities from sustainable jobs and economic revival, to fighting climate change and bolstering energy security. On a local level, renting out land for wind farms can provide income, and taxes from a wind energy business can be used by the local community to improve infrastructure and services — all of which contribute to the public’s strong perception of wind power.
The results in France echo other public opinion surveys in the country: In 2011 an ADEME opinion poll found that 80 percent of French people back the installation of wind turbines. In 2013 an IPSOS survey found that wind power had a good image for 83 percent of the population. The same survey found that 80 percent of interviewees would welcome wind turbines in their region (départment) while 68 percent would welcome turbines in their local area (commune). And, according to France Energie Eolienne, public opinion becomes more favourable the closer the respondent lives to a wind farm.
This blog was originally published on EWEA and was republished with permission.
Lead image: Wind turbines via Shutterstock
The information and views expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author and not necessarily those of RenewableEnergyWorld.com or the companies that advertise on this Web site and other publications. This blog was posted directly by the author and was not reviewed for accuracy, spelling or grammar.