France is engaged in an ambitious energy transition project, on all levels. With the objective of becoming carbon neutral, like its European neighbors, by 2050.
To achieve this objective, a profound change in energy consumption biases is at work, to reduce the latter in a global manner, by rethinking each consumption item: industry, transport, buildings, heating… which looks like to a sobriety cure is intended to limit the production of energy, particularly electricity, at the other end of the chain. We already know that the latter will tend to increase mechanically, as a result of the mutations mentioned. In particular transport, which must be massively electrified by 2035, according to the roadmap established by the EU. But also industry, which aims to electrify its processes, where possible.
This growing demand for electricity, which is expected to become increasingly green, will require production tools, some of which already exist and are deployed on a large scale. Nuclear power, for example, makes it possible to produce carbon-free electricity. Despite the difficulties encountered by the sector, the State has already made it an essential part of the French electricity production strategy for the future. Nothing surprising, since this source of electricity production has allowed the French to have a certain energy autonomy for several decades, at a price which has long been one of the lowest in Europe.
Alongside nuclear power, France has deployed other renewable production techniques, such as hydroelectricity, solar and wind power. If hydroelectric production is modular, it remains confined geographically – where there is water and the means to install dams – while wind power sees its production intermittent due to the vagaries of the wind. This is naturally the case with solar power, which also suffers from this problem of intermittency.
It is for these reasons that the French energy future involves the development of renewable energies – which is no longer the subject of debate – which have very specific properties. Chief among them is their ability to offer modular, on-demand production. This allows us to adapt to needs. Then, these renewable sources must be able to be put into production locally, where they are needed. The availability of electricity, in time and space, will make it possible to effectively deploy technologies that will lead us towards electrified transport, and an industry as less dependent as possible on fossil fuels.
The exploitation of osmotic energy, due to its renewable DNA and its ability to be modular, is a potential solution. Small-scale nuclear power too, due to its ability to be implemented very locally. Finally, the last example covered in our file, the combination of production tools, in this case solar and wind, can represent an alternative to their limits mentioned above.
Other candidates exist, such as hydrogen for example, tidal energy, which could emerge and be used on a large scale and are serious, even very serious, candidates with regard to hydrogen.