“We have suffered from the German electricity strategy for years” – EURACTIV.com

EURACTIV France spoke to right-wing MP Raphaël Schellenberger about his vision of “European energy solidarity”, which he conditioned on the sovereignty of states to decide their own energy mix rather than on a uniform European policy that he accuses Germany of having imposed.

Raphaël Schellenberger (LR) has been a member of the National Assembly of France since 2017. He represents the 4th constituency of Haut-Rhin. He was also chairman of the parliamentary fact-finding mission on the follow-up to the closure of the Fessenheim nuclear power plant located on the border with Germany.

Read the full interview in French here.

To begin with, Raphaël Schellenberger recalls that his party, the right-wing LR party, is not opposed to the development of renewable energies (RE), in particular tidal and wave power.

On the other hand, “we are aware of the limits of each of these means of production”, he added, affirming that “in the current state of things, we cannot do without nuclear power, which is the means of most carbon-free energy production”.

Therefore, he criticized the closure of the Fessenheim power plant on the border between France and Germany in June 2020. For him, this decision, taken under the mandate of former French President François Hollande, “unbalanced the supply and demand for electricity, leading to the weakening of the production tools of the great Rhine plain, one of the industrial hearts of Europe.

Proposal to revive the nuclear industry

In response, Schellenberger, who presents himself as the “MP for Fessenheim”, has just tabled a bill modifying the objective set out in a 2019 law which aims to reduce the share of nuclear power to a maximum of 50% of French electricity. . to mix together.

Today and at full power, nuclear energy represents between 60 and 70% of the French electricity mix, making France one of the most carbon-free countries in terms of electricity production.

This bill aims to “point out the inconsistencies in Emmanuel Macron’s speech”, specifies the deputy. The French president now wants to revive the nuclear industry, while he politically supported the law of 2019.

“Let’s do it then,” said the deputy, “let’s give the signal that allows the [nuclear] sector to make plans by removing the objective of reducing the share of nuclear power in the French mix.

But “redevelopment of the nuclear sector is a medium-term solution,” he acknowledged, saying renewables can help fill the void until 2030.

Nevertheless, he underlined the importance of nuclear energy in responding to the current energy supply crisis in Europe. The French nuclear fleet is currently suffering from several constraints, including the postponement of reactor maintenance due to the 2020 and 2021 confinements, as well as corrosion problems.

This situation calls for securing nuclear production margins “rather than organizing the transformation of the energy system by using safety and security margins to develop, among other things, variable renewable energies”. [sources]“, he denounced.

Meanwhile, the French government has announced that it is ready to restart all its reactors this winter. But according to Schellenberger, this objective is “a bit too ambitious”, especially if the plans are not accompanied by a policy centered on reducing demand.

“What is the priority? he asked, “to ensure that we can play PlayStation at 7 p.m. or to maintain production capacity to avoid economic, technical and social collapse?” With a touch of irony, the deputy compared the French strategy to that of Germany.

Germany urged not to interfere in France’s choices

For him, like Germany, France must ensure the energy security of its industry, before that of households. Especially since in the name of solidarity, “we could have to stop our gas production facilities to supply theirs,” he said.

According to him, the current situation is incredible: “We have suffered from the German electricity strategy for years. And this, even though France was more often a net exporter of electricity than an importer.

Moreover, Germany has no right to interfere in France’s energy choices. And if “solidarity should have no limits”, we must “have a common European policy” which accepts that “States have different industrial and energy strategies before, of course, pooling them”.

As EU urged to mobilize all available energy, anger against Germany grows

The EU energy crisis is about to erupt as Europe heads into winter, prompting calls to ensure every watt of available electricity is fed into the European grid. Germany, meanwhile, remains determined to shut down its last nuclear reactors, causing growing frustration among its neighbours.

However, he said he was ready to work on “common rules on the safety, management and security of nuclear waste”. At the same time, “even if the Fessenheim plant is on the border [with Germany]I tell our German neighbors that it is not up to them to decide our energy policy,” he insists.

At the same time, he argues that structural changes need to be made to Europe’s energy system to decouple electricity prices from the price of gas, which has skyrocketed in recent months due to the war in Ukraine.

However, the deputy is not in favor of a “unilateral exit from the market”, as advocated by the president of his group in the National Assembly. The condition of such an exit would be that the market is not reformed, even if a large majority of Member States want reform.

On the other hand, “it will also be necessary to get out of the hydroelectricity market and finally focus on the energy production tool rather than its legal operation”, concludes Schellenberger.

The “deputy of Fessenheim” will have plenty of time to defend his point of view within the parliamentary committee on France’s energy sovereignty requested by the LR group in the National Assembly, of which he will be the president, understands EURACTIV France.

“My interest in these issues is very strong and I fully intend to allow the French people to understand how the inconsistent decisions of the last ten years have been taken so that we can respond correctly to the challenges we face,” says he.

James R. Rhodes