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Why renewable energy is dividing presidential candidates

The construction site for the foundations of the wind turbines of the Fécamp offshore park (Seine-Maritime), February 11, 2022.

There are those who want to see them disappear from the landscape, and those for whom they embody the pillar of the future energy system of France. Regarding wind turbines, and more broadly the rise of renewable energies, the positions of the presidential candidates cover a very wide range, from “zero new establishments” to 100% renewable. With, as a corollary, a clear split between supporters of a revival of the nuclear program and defenders of an exit from the atom.

From the campaign for the regional elections in June 2021, the energy issue occupied a significant part of the public debate. “It is regrettable that the subject of the climate has not been dealt with more, but that of energy is more present than five years ago, observes Alexandre Roesch, the general delegate of the Union of Renewable Energies. There’s probably a bit more understanding that we have important decisions to make for the future. »

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However, speeches and programs often focus on electricity production, much more than on issues related to the heat sector or consumption. “The debate remains poor. For example, we still have the impression that we can think of production independently of consumption, observes Alexis Monteil-Gutel, renewable energy project manager at CLER – Network for Energy Transition. The campaign struggles to address the substance of the issues and all of the issues. »

Wind turbines, Zemmour and Le Pen’s hobbyhorse

If there is one theme that has not been neglected, it is that of wind turbines. The two far-right candidates have made it a hobbyhorse: Eric Zemmour and Marine Le Pen promise to put an end to all projects, land and sea. “We drop the wind turbines, we stop all the wind turbines, because it’s a disaster, because it makes the French landscape ugly, because it’s intermittent energy”, explained the president of Reconquest! on Twitch, 1er February. “All ongoing wind projects and subsidies will be stopped, also affirmed the candidate of the National Rally during a press conference on February 14. The machines will be gradually dismantled at the expense of the manufacturers. »

However, these proposals are not based on any energy transition scenario currently drawn. According to expert projections, it is impossible to respect France’s climate commitments and guarantee its electricity supply without using a renewable energy source. During the preparation of its reference report on the electricity mixes, the operator of the electricity transmission network RTE excluded an option without wind and solar power, requested during the consultation phase, because it did not make it possible to fulfill these two conditions. According to RTE, a moratorium on renewables would lead France to “lack of low-carbon electricity to cover needs beyond the 2030-2035 horizon”.

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