For André Merlin, it is risky to aim for more than 50% renewable energies in national electricity production in 2050.

Emma Confrere

Published update

«In the electric mix [de 2050]we cannot envisage a completely renewable scenario“says André Merlin, who was the first president of the national electricity transmission network operator RTE (from 2000 to 2007). During a hearing held on 1is last February by the National Assembly, he went further with a famous expression used by Emmanuel Macron: “It’s carabistouille.»

By 2050, the Head of State wants to accelerate both nuclear and renewable energies. But, according to its objectives, the atom would not represent more than 50% of electricity production in France. In 2021, RTE had published five different scenarios, ranging from 100% renewable energies to the full development of nuclear energy. Emmanuel Macron’s prospects are closer to the last two scenarios, which give a larger share to nuclear energy. The share of renewable energies would then be “reduced” to 63% in the penultimate scenario and to 50% in the last.

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Keep three quarters of controllable energy in the electricity mix

For André Merlin, neither is recommendable: “It is clear that a certain number of scenarios proposed in 2050 by RTE in its study go, in my opinion, much too far, which is why I have reservations. I have never been against the introduction of wind or solar resources, but there are limits. Beyond 50%, I think that we take risks of uncontrollable means.“In an interview with the Tribunepublished a year ago, the founder of RTE underlined “that in the case of wind power, for example, it is necessary to take into account the guaranteed production necessary to compensate for the absence of wind, including at sea, and a load factor that is difficult to anticipate».

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For the electricity mix of 2050, André Merlin thus goes beyond RTE’s latest scenario – which recommends 50% nuclear power – by proposing “75% controllable electricity (nuclear and hydraulic) and 25% non-controllable energies“. A few days later, on February 8, the former executive director of EDF Hervé Machenaud defended a similar position. “The best RTE scenario is the one with 50% nuclear. As they didn’t want to go any further, we made an 80% nuclear scenario, which is the safest in terms of supply and 25% cheaper.“. This conjecture is close to the EDF electricity production in 2021 with 86.8% nuclear, 10.4% renewable energies (including hydraulics), 1.7%gas and cogeneration combined cycle», 0.7% fuel oil and 0.4% gas.

Whatever the scenario chosen by the government, it is still necessary that the construction sites of the new French EPRs manage to see the light of day. The first deadline concerns the power plant Flamanville, which should launch the commercial start-up of its reactor in mid-2024, after another six-month postponement by EDF. Next will come the two EPRs at the Gravelines plant, scheduled for 2035.

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