In 2015, the French Parliament passed a law that defines a strategy for energy transition after two years of open public debate. This legislative package outlines ambitious policy measures to reduce energy consumption and comprises an unprecedented effort to renovate homes and buildings. On the supply side, the Law aims for a diversification of energy sources with a phasing down of nuclear and the speeding up of renewable energy sources. Furthermore, by promoting a ‘circular’ economic model and positive-energy territories, it redefines the balance of power in favour of regional authorities, potentially leading to a turning point in French energy policy. But the Law also includes contradictions and grey areas. It is wishful thinking to believe in the phasing down of nuclear from 75% to 50% of the power production in 2025, combined with the stepping up of renewables to 40% of electricity consumption in 2030. And the current economic crisis puts a cap on the capacity of the State, as well as on local and regional authorities, to trigger the transition and, due to the same constraints, it is doubtful that households and corporations will be able to invest or bear the burden of higher energy prices. Finally, as with the German Energiewende, the French Law illustrates the European difficulties to define collectively a long-term energy strategy.
Keywords: French energy policy, energy transition, green economy
Jel Code: Q42, Q48, Q54