June 23. 2024. 12:16

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Most French people support both nuclear and renewables, survey says


The majority of French people want their country to speed up the development of renewables and nuclear energies to get away from fossil fuels by 2050, according to a survey by Harris Interactive published on Wednesday (5 April).

According to the survey, the proportion of French citizens interested in energy issues grew from 65% in May 2021 to 77% in April 2023, with the war in Ukraine playing a role.

“When two-thirds of the population [in 2021] was interested in energy, it was a surprise,” Harris Interactive’s deputy director Jean-Daniel Lévy told a press conference.

Over the same period, the number of French who have a “good image” of nuclear power increased (57%) – a six percentage point jump compared to 2021 – though there are “persistent doubts about the issues of independence and energy transition,” the survey states.

“The ecological dimension and the undeniable aspect of price, as understood by the French, play a role in the perception of nuclear power,” said Lévy.

However, more people still favour natural gas (58%), with wind, geothermal, hydraulic and solar energy being the most popular by a wide margin (84%).

Green voters in France broadly supportive of nuclear power: survey

Most French Green party supporters are supportive of nuclear power, notably to secure the country’s energy independence, according to a recent survey, which goes against the party’s long-held anti-nuclear beliefs.

Accelerating renewables

According to the survey, the French also want the government to speed up the country’s development of renewable energies, as 65% believe it to be insufficient.

Interviewed on Franceinfo on Wednesday morning, Energy Transition Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher recalled that France is looking to speed up the development of renewable energies, citing the recent adoption of the Renewable Energies Acceleration Law, and the ongoing examination of a nuclear energy bill that is close to being adopted.

In parallel, the European Commission presented a reform of the European electricity market on 14 March, which should provide more visibility for renewable and nuclear players since all are subject to rules that will facilitate long-term investments.

Those surveyed also want the government to increase its renewable energy push across sectors, including energy research, transport and energy-efficient building, except for energy-efficient housing renovation were not criticised by those surveyed.

For Lévy, this means that “when the government communicates in a way that is considered strong, it is heard by our compatriots”.

Still, one in two of those surveyed now believe that France will not be able to reach its goal of moving away from fossil fuels by the year 2050 – a figure that was just 35% in May 2021.

In a context where “we will no longer have access to new thermal vehicles in 2035”, these “changes in the energy mix” will have to be considered, said Lévy.

These “major developments do not hinder progress, but they do call into question the credibility” of governments, he added.

Pro-nuclear French becoming less reluctant about renewables, survey finds

The French, long seen as fervent supporters of nuclear power, now appear to also favour renewable energies, according to a new survey which gives the government a welcome boost as it prepares a new law to accelerate energy infrastructure projects.