The legislation includes six key measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

By Paul A. Davies and Michael D. Green

The French Parliament has adopted a new climate energy package to tackle the effects of climate change and boost France’s energy transition endeavors to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. As per Article 4.1 of the 2015 Paris Agreement, carbon neutrality is defined in the package as the balance, across the national territory, between anthropic emissions by sources and removal of greenhouse gases by sinks. Six key goals comprise this latest legislation.

By Alexander Wilhelm and Joachim Grittmann

The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany (FCC) on December 6 ruled that while the phase-out of nuclear energy (enacted in 2011) is in compliance with the constitution, Germany’s energy suppliers which operate nuclear power plants have to be compensated “reasonably”. Although the German legislator is primarily obliged by the court ruling to draw up new provisions by June 2018, energy suppliers have indicated their willingness to start negotiations with the Federal Government.

As a result of the Fukushima accident in March 2011, the legislator enacted fixed end dates for the operation of nuclear power plants in July 2011. It was an extreme reversal considering that the German government, only a few months before, put forth a modified energy policy in which nuclear energy should be prolonged as a “bridging technology” by an average of 12 years for each nuclear power plant. The law of 2010 increased electricity output allowances. Accordingly, energy suppliers challenged the withdrawn prolongation in their constitutional complaints against the recent amendment of the Atomic Energy Act (Atomgesetz). However, they did not object to the fundamental decision in favor of a phase-out of the nuclear energy taken in 2002 (Atomausstieg), nor were energy suppliers able to claim a concrete amount of compensation before the (FCC). Crucially, there was a gap between the guaranteed residual electricity volumes and the short-term operational lifetimes of the plants.

By Paul Davies and Michael Green

France adopted an ambitious energy transition package in August 2015 that sets out various targets designed to achieve the gradual de-carbonisation and increased sustainability of its economy.

The package includes consumption reduction targets, energy production cuts and provisions for a long-term programming scheme for public authorities to manage the country’s energy mix.

The Objective

Consistent with the EU’s energy strategy, France’s objective is to:

  • reduce its energy consumption by 50 percent by 2050 (with reference to 2012 energy consumption levels)
  • achieve an intermediate target of an overall 20 percent reduction by 2030
  • reduce fossil fuels consumption by 30 percent by 2030

In parallel, and perhaps more controversially, France aims to significantly reduce its production of nuclear electricity. France currently sources 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear energy – the highest worldwide – and is targeting a one third reduction of its nuclear energy sourcing by 2025.

By Antonio Morales and Rosa Espin

The news that the UK is to start construction on the first nuclear power plant to be built in two decades at Hinkley Point C has put nuclear energy firmly back among the headlines, but will this new £25bn investment signal a new Nuclear era in Europe?

It looks unlikely. Nuclear power plants currently generate nearly 30% of the electricity produced in the EU, yet there is a growing trend towards nuclear phase-out among member states. France is widely considered the leading nuclear power provider in the world and the largest net exporter of electricity, but the passage in France of the Energy Bill will result in a 25% decrease in nuclear energy by 2025. Similarly, Spain’s 1994 nuclear moratorium banned the construction of new nuclear power plants and suspended any ongoing construction works.

While the EU is, on the whole, phasing out nuclear power, emerging markets are increasingly turning to nuclear power to meet the ever-escalating energy demand from their growing populations. According to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2015, there are currently 62 nuclear reactors under construction worldwide, dominated by emerging economies such as China, Russia and India.