Right at the end of last year, on 29 December, wind power in France covered a record 10% of the country’s electricity demand, the French blog “habitat durable” reported. France’s wind power fleet reached a power production equivalent to 5,982 MW – the same level as six nuclear reactors.
During the month of December in general, wind energy met 4% of France’s electricity needs, and in 2012 the average level was 3% – meeting the electricity needs of 6 million people.
“Wind energy production during recent weeks illustrates the characteristic trait of French wind energy: every year, wind energy production is higher during the coldest months,” the blog said.
France is the world’s most nuclear dependent country – currently 75% of its electricity is produced by its 58 reactors. But, during his election campaign last year to become President of France, François Hollande pledged to cut that share to 50% by 2025 by boosting renewables.
One fact that could have motivated Hollande’s pledge is that the French Court of Auditors released a report early last year showing that the cost of French nuclear would rise to €90/MWh – more expensive than onshore wind power. The report also highlighted massive uncertainties over the future costs of decommissioning old plants and waste treatment.
At the end of 2011 France had a total wind energy capacity of 6.8 GW and the government, in its National Renewable Energy Action Plan to meet the EU’s 20% renewable energy target, set a target of 25 GW by 2020, including 6 GW offshore. The majority of French wind power can be found in Picardie, Centre, Languedoc-Roussillon, Champagne-Ardenne, Lorraine and Brittany.