Factsheet: Energy in France

Published on 07.21.2021

10 min read

High School
Economic and social sciences

THE BASICS

What Energy Sources Are Consumed in France?

This chart shows a breakdown of consumption in France in 2019: 

 

Illustration

Source:

  1.  BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2020
     

France also imports natural from a range of countries, including Niger, Canada, Australia and Kazakhstan.
 

What Is This Energy Used For?

Here is a table detailing each sector’s share of final energy consumption:

Source: 

  1. Key Energy Figures, 2020 edition – French Ministry of Ecological Transition (in French only)

 

How Is Generated?

Electricity is generated:

  1. In thermal plants (nuclear reactors, gas-fired plants, some -fired plants, hardly any oil-fired ones).
  2. In large hydropower plants (dams, La Rance ).
  3. At wind and solar farms.
  4. Via waste .

 

The breakdown looks like this:

Source: 

  1. RTE - Electricity Report 2019 (in French only)

 

How Much CO2 Does France Emit?

This graph shows the change in CO2 emissions per capita since 1990: 

Source:

  1.  Key Energy Figures, 2020 – French Ministry of Ecological Transition (in French only)

 

FUTURE CHALLENGES

What Are France’s Objectives?
  1. Achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 (see Close-Up: What Is Carbon Neutrality?). 

  2. Halve final energy consumption by 2050, with two intermediate targets: a 7.5% reduction by 2023 and a 16.5% reduction by 2028.

  3. Two key drivers: improving technology for greater and encouraging more “virtuous” consumer habits.

  4. Develop renewable energies to curb CO2 emissions.

  5. Reduce the share of nuclear in the power generation mix to 50% by 2035, to achieve a more even balance and mitigate risks.

 

How Can They Be Achieved?
  1. Two priority sectors: transportation and housing. 

  2. Key drivers: promoting new forms of mobility (car pooling, public transportation), electrifying vehicles, and renovating 2.5 million homes by 2028.

 

Quick Quiz: Energy and You

  1. Where is the largest solar plant in Europe? 

    Answer: In France, near Bordeaux. The Cestas plant, which spans 260 hectares (2.6 square kilometers), has a capacity of 300 megawatt-peak, corresponding to the annual domestic consumption (excluding heating) of the city of Bordeaux (250,000 people), but less than 0.1% of annual French power generation. 
     
  2. There are almost 5,000 wind turbines in European waters. How many are French? 

    None! France is behind the United Kingdom, Germany and the Nordic countries. But it plans to build six wind farms by 2024, off the coasts of Seine-Maritime, Calvados, Côtes-d’Armor, Vendée and Loire-Atlantique. 
     
  3. France plans to shut down its four remaining coal-fired power plants. When? 

    France intends to shut down its last four coal-fired power plants (Le Havre, Saint-Avold, Cordemais and Gardanne) in 2022. However, nothing is set in stone, as the shutdown of the Fessenheim nuclear power plant in Alsace may mean the country has to keep them running as a precaution – albeit at lower levels.    
     
  4. What is the number one source in France?  

    Wood, well ahead of hydro and heat pumps. And wood energy is expected to consolidate its position, as close to 400,000 wood stoves are sold every year. It is estimated that around 6% of the population uses wood-fired heating. 
     
  5. When is Airbus promising there’ll be -powered airplanes? 

    In 2035, so very soon! European aircraft manufacturer Airbus has revealed three concepts for hydrogen-powered airplanes. However, many technical problems need to be resolved, particularly in terms of tank volume and safety.  

 

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