With the ever-increasing need in energy, countries must develop their power plants. This enterprise is primordial in order to ensure the country’s energy self-reliance. Each nation possesses its own strategies in terms of energy supplies—in the 1950s, France opted for nuclear power.
Nuclear power plants gradually grew to become the first electric generating source in France. It has now thrived into being known as a characteristic of the country: France is the first « nuclear country » in the world, compared with its number of inhabitants. Today, all 58 nuclear reactors cover 77% of the national energy production. This sector employs 220 000 people, according to the French Society of Nuclear Energy (SFEN) and is the country’s third most important industrial sector, following aeronautics and the automobile industry.
Thanks to its 19 nuclear power plants, France is supplied with the least costly electricity in Europe.
On the other hand, nuclear power is a catalyst for many debates, which have only grown more numerous following past disasters. French inhabitants who protest against the use of nuclear energy argue that its potential risks are too great. In an attempt to soothe these upset minds, the state invested in research which sought to improve the management of such risks. Since then, no accidents occurred; furthermore, an attempt at reducing the use of nuclear power plants translated into the government’s recent efforts at developing renewable energy. France now set an objective to diminish its exploitation of nuclear energy by almost 30 percentage points in order to have only 50% of the national energy production originate from nuclear power. This goal is to be met within 10 years and clearly illustrates the nation’s willingness to diversify its energy sources for a more sustainable economy.
by Bastien S.
Ever since the discovery of nuclear power, France has been heavily investing in this new energy’s development. Not only has it enabled the country to diminish its reliance on oil for electricity, but it has also placed a mighty weapon between the state’s hands—the nuclear bomb.
On the first hand, France is supplied with over 70 nuclear centrals which generate electricity for the entire country. Although this efficient way to produce energy reduces the nation’s dependence on oil, some of its limits should not be overlooked. Nuclear centrals necessitate uranium 235, a rare type of uranium which cannot be found in France and forces the country to be dependent from another natural resource. Also, scandals and protests against the French centrals sprouted after catastrophes such as the one in Chernobyl. With the French centrals’ gradual aging, French inhabitants’ fear for their own security has increased; furthermore, the cost which renovating them represents is a high nuisance for the state. Despite being a powerful way to provide the country with electricity without resorting to oil extraction, nuclear energy also instigates numerous problems, including its extremely harmful impact on the environment due to dumping radioactive waste into the soil.
On the other hand, the political and military advantages of being supplied with nuclear energy are embodied in this single tool: the nuclear bomb. Acquired by France at the end of World War II, it represents, to this day, its ultimate deterrence weapon. In addition to being a military weapon, the nuclear bomb is particularly an important political tool, since its threat is enough to cease or avoid a conflict of any kind. This weapon contributes in highlighting France’s power on an international scale, along with other members of the United Nations’ Security Council.
by Emma P.