France is in the enviable position of having among the lowest energy costs in Europe, coupled with low carbon emissions--thanks to 58 nuclear plants that provide 75% of France’s total energy consumption. As a result of nuclear investment, France is currently the largest net-exporter of energy in the world, bringing in revenues estimated at 3 billion euros annually.
But the French nuclear plants were designed with an expected 40-year life-span, and their average age is now 35 years. And France, while using a high percentage of recycled nuclear fuel in power production, still faces the problem of how to handle waste products. Thus, the government faces a choice: invest in renewing the fleet of nuclear plants or invest in renewables—or support a mix of the two. Decommissioning old nuclear plants, building a new generation of plants, developing a system of renewables—all these options come with significant price tags.