France Spurs Efficiency, Renewables with $13.4 Billion Energy Plan

France’s planned energy law will mobilize about €10 billion (US $13.4 billion) in investment through tax credits and low-interest loans to spur efficiency and renewable power, Environment Minister Segolene Royal said.

The law seeks to boost growth and jobs, and reduce bills through energy savings, she said. Measures include tax breaks and zero-interest loans for renovations to insulate homes.

“What is important is to use our imagination,” Royal told reporters in Paris, asked about plans for funding, growth and jobs. “What we have done is financial engineering.”

Government-owned lender Caisse des Depots et Consignations will set aside €5 billion (US $6.7 billion) for green projects, while non- state banks are also promising to lend, she said.

The cabinet approved the long-overdue legislation today. Expected to begin its journey through parliament in September, the law stems from President Francois Hollande’s target of shrinking the share of electricity France gets from atomic power to 50 percent by 2025 from about three-quarters now.

Other goals in the law include cutting emissions 75 percent by 2050 and getting 32 percent of energy from clean sources such as wind and solar by 2030, up from about 14 percent in 2012.

State-owned nuclear utility Electricite de France SA will be able to work out how to achieve the atomic output goal, as indicated by Royal in June with a broad outline of the law.

Energy Mix

“The energy mix has to progress,” Royal said.

While EDF won’t be forced to shut reactors, total nuclear capacity will be capped at current levels and the company will have to explain its strategy for its mix of generation sources to lawmakers in regular updates. Royal confirmed today that EDF’s oldest atomic plant at Fessenheim will be shut.

In the lead-up to the law’s publication, advocates of atomic power such as EDF have relied on models forecasting a significant increase in electricity demand and economic growth to justify keeping reactors running. Royal has said she wants power consumption to decline through increased efficiency.

The law will also promote electric car use at public entities and through bonuses granted to buyers who turn in older diesel-powered models, according to documents distributed today. Some 7 million recharging stations will also be installed.

Copyright 2014 Bloomberg

Lead image: Meunierd via Shutterstock

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