With the French presidential election over, the task of governing is now on the shoulders of the newly-elected President, Nicolas Sarkozy. And when it comes to energy security, it seems as if he appreciates the role nuclear energy plays both in France and around the world.
Why do I say that? Back in April 2006, Bruno Comby, President of Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy, sent a questionnaire to all 12 candidates for President, and the most positive response was received back from the Sarkozy campaign.
The following is an excerpt from an English translation of the response that Sarkozy's campaign sent to EFN:
I am perfectly aware of the fact that renewable energies, in their present state of development, cannot seriously hope to replace nuclear energy.For the full text of the questionnaire and the responses in French, click here.
We should obviously continue to support the development of renewable energies; but at least for the medium term they will be nothing more than a rather small contribution to our energy supply. And I can not accept the idea of replacing nuclear power stations by coal or gas. Let me repeat that my priority is to counter climate change.
More exactly, you are asking me the orientations of the energy policy which I would like to see implemented. Let me give you a precise answer.
You know that nuclear energy provides 80% of the electricity in France. That largely explains why France emits 18% less greenhouse gas per inhabitant than the average of the European Union countries. If our nuclear power plants were to be replaced tomorrow by coal plants, our greenhouse gas emissions would rise by 25%.
Renewable energies are one solution, but they would not be able to satisfy the entire energy needs of France. We must keep all our options open for replacing our present fleet of nuclear power plants starting about 2015, beginning with the construction of the EPR to come on line in 2012. In terms of safety (prevention of accidents) and for the protection of the environment against waste, it is my position that the EPR reactor represents a great step forward.
It is clear that we must at the same time reassure all our citizens who expect to be better informed about the disposal of nuclear waste and more closely associated with decisions concerning nuclear waste. I propose therefore to create an independent agency which would guarantee that nuclear energy is properly dealt with. This agency would have a "freedom of information" mission, sorting out those documents which can be communicated to the citizens from those which cannot, for obvious reasons of national security.
In any event, taking in consideration the many benefits of this source of energy, I do not contemplate any rapid abandonment of nuclear power. I cannot forget that nuclear energy contributes in a decisive manner to the three objectives of our energy policy as defined in the French law: to guarantee national independence in energy and the security of supply; to take action against the greenhouse effect; and to make sure that the price of electricity remains competitive and stable.
Now to answer your questions about the development of civilian nuclear power world-wide, I am favorable to this development, with the obvious rule that we collaborate only with democratic governments and under strictly administered conditions. This kind of partnership backed by the strength of the French nuclear industry implies to maintain the leadership in this domain of our French nuclear constructor (AREVA) and our French nuclear utility (EDF). The construction of the first EPR reactor will help us keep our leadership.