Socialist candidate François Hollande may have won the first round of the French elections, but what are his plans for wind energy if he manages to pip Nicholas Sarkozy to head the country in the second round next month. And, if Mr Sarkozy manages to turn the situation around and retain his title, is he likely to support renewables during a second term as the president of France?
Unsurprisingly, renewable energy was not the main consideration of the majority of the French voters on Sunday. Indeed, despite the clear need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and Europe’s commitment to be leader in the fight against climate change, Green candidate Eva Joly received only 2% of the French votes. However, after the initial result was announced, Joly immediately called for her supporters to vote for Hollande in the second round.
Long reliant on nuclear as its chief source of energy, France is having to think long and hard about its energy strategy in the face of increasing public questioning about the safety of nuclear after the Fukushima disaster and greater evidence about the potential future high financial costs of the technology. The decision by the French government late last week to award tenders to build offshore wind farms to produce 2 GW of energy suggests that wind power is high up the Elysée’s list of alternatives to nuclear.
Wind power companies and French citizens are waiting for an announcement later this month that the nation is finally going to capitalize on its extensive coastline and enter — in a big way — the growing offshore wind sector.
News reports and various websites are publishing stories saying that Environment and Energy Minister Jean-Louis Borloo is expected to announce in September initial tenders for offshore wind farms that will include up to 600 wind turbines.
Agence France Presse says the tenders will relate to 10 billion euros to build 3,000 MW of offshore capacity at five to ten sites in Normandy, Brittany and the regions of Pays de la Loire and Languedoc by 2015.
EWEA’s ‘breath of fresh air’ campaign hit new highs today after the total of wind turbines adopted across Europe reached 500.
The UK still tops the league table with 53 turbines adopted, hotly followed by Spain – 36 adoptions – and France – 31 adoptions. Belgium and Germany, which were in second and third position earlier in the week, have dropped to fourth and fifth respectively.
Participants are also keenly getting their friends and relatives to vote for their adopted turbine. Currently, the Cabeco da Rainha turbine in Portugal is in poll position with 36 votes.
EWEC 2010, where the campaign was launched this Tuesday, is now over and participants are packing up their stands and preparing for the, hopefully shorter, journey home. An impressive 3,000 participants made it to the event while some 1,400 watched the online live video conference.