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Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday

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Those deluded fools who are not true believers nuclear power will save the world were very depressed when the firmly anti-atom French environment minister Nicolas Hulot very publicly resigned from the Macron government. 

Amongst his biggest grouses was a fear that President Macron was reneging from his campaign promises to halve the number of nuclear plants.

Oh ye of little faith. They should learn to read French. Or at least the newspaper Le Monde, which carried the first policy interview with Hulot’s successor Francois de Rugy. 

Roughly translated, he is adamant the French state-controlled power company EDF – still clearing the ground to build the Hinkley nuclear power project in Somerset – will need to show that any new generation nuclear reactors can work properly, before any other plants are built. 

In essence, de Rugy says his gut feeling is that nuclear power is not an energy source for the future, but carefully adding that there should be no “war of religions” on the issue. de Rugy said “EDF should demonstrate that the European Pressurised Reactor truly works,” which given the interminable delays in construction at Flammanville  is definitely  not the case yet. Six years on from its official completion date, nobody is able to guarantee any date for connection to the grid. 

de Rugy also emphasises that EDF “has to demonstrate that the EPR is competitive in terms of costs”. For good measure, he concluded  that “the important thing is to expose what the economic data is in the nuclear sector, and in the field of renewable energies. And to know what the safety data is. Nuclear risk is not a small risk that can be brushed away”. It is surely just as if M. Hulot had never taken his long holiday.


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