France is considering restructuring state-owned utility EDF and plans a steady reduction to the country’s reliance on nuclear power, the government said on Tuesday.
In a long-awaited speech on energy strategy, President Emmanuel Macron said France would reduce the share of nuclear in the power mix to 50 percent by 2035, down from 75 percent today, rather than the total phasing out planned by neighbor Germany.
The fate of EDF, long a symbol of French industrial might and a world leader in nuclear technology, is a politically sensitive issue in France. It has already led to the resignation of Macron’s former ecology minister, Nicolas Hulot, who accused the president of dragging his feet on nuclear power.
“The state will consider boosting its stake in the capital of the company in line with the challenges and risks linked to the nuclear activity,” the note said.
Ecology Minister Francois de Rugy told a news conference that EDF’s structure was not necessarily the most efficient in the long run.
“We want EDF to remain an integrated group. There could be a parent company and subsidiaries,” he said.
Financial markets have long speculated that EDF’s nuclear activities could be put into a separate legal structure and renationalized, which would allow the state to subsidize the business and make nuclear energy available to EDF as well as its competitors.
Several of EDF’s major business activities are already operating as separate legal units, such as power grid operators RTE and Enedis, as well as its renewable energy division.
Greenpeace said that Macron had fallen prey to corporate interests.
“For the umpteenth time, the government has caved in to the nuclear industry lobby,” said Alix Mazounie, head of Greenpeace France’s nuclear campaign.