France bets on nuclear, by Robert Tornabell

France bets on nuclear, by Robert Tornabell

At COP27 in Egypt, it was agreed that the countries that pollute the most should compensate for the drought and the damage that the world population has been suffering. It was also agreed that the funds that Brazil had received years before to save the Amazon (the lungs of the world) would be restarted with the contributions of the European countries that interrupted them when they realized that the previous president did not prevent deforestation. Europe is now torn between renewable energy, nuclear and fossil fuels. France is in favor of nuclear power, but a quarter of its reactors are idle for repairs. For the first time, a large French bank has granted a loan green to the state company that already controls all of France’s nuclear power. They have second generation nuclear projects, smaller and with faster installation. Although the dilemma remains: renewable or nuclear.

Belfort (France), 01/18/2022.- French President Emmanuel Macron talks to officials and workers as he visits the GE Steam Power System main production site for its nuclear turbine systems in Belfort, eastern France, 10 February 2022. French President Emmanuel Macron is to unveil plans to build new nuclear reactors in the country as part of his energy strategy to reduce planet-warming emissions.  (France) EFE/EPA/Jean-Francois Badias / POOL POOL PHOTO MAXPPP OUT

Macron, during a visit to some facilities in Belfort (France) linked to the nuclear sector, at the beginning of the year

Jean-Francois Badias / EFE

The Spanish case is different. In November, wind power generated 48.3% of production; nuclear, 20.6%, and solar photovoltaic and hydraulic, percentages around 6.5% each. Nuclear power offers continuous generation and is necessary to cover days with few gusts of wind or low hydraulic generation due to drought. But the Government intends to close all nuclear plants between 2030 and 2035. It is possible that Spain will become the largest producer of green hydrogen. It will produce it in Andalusia and Galicia, and the Maersk shipping company has declared that it will stop using fossil fuels and in an as yet undetermined period it could be the largest buyer of Spanish green hydrogen. In Catalonia, Naturgy regasifies the liquefied gas it contracted long-term with Algeria and has spare capacity to also supply green hydrogen.

Renewables in Catalonia only contribute 8% to primary energy. For some, if we only have 3% of the surface of Spain, we cannot yet reach our contribution to the GDP of the State, around 19%. Denmark had the same problem, but the installation of windmills in the sea has been the solution.

Unfortunately, the facts are sometimes stronger than the politics in favor of the environment. France has one nuclear reactor for every 1.2 million inhabitants. The United States, one for every 3.6 million, and Germany, one reactor for every 27.7 million. They didn’t care that they had the most energy-intensive industry. Meanwhile, some oil companies get rich buying renewables and the US sells us the gas it produces for fracking or shales, which can damage groundwater.

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