2018-10-20
http://w3.windfair.net/wind-energy/news/29246-france-wind-energy-protest-nuclear-energy-transition-offshore-wiond-turbine

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Wind Industry Profile of


Protests and Complaints: France and Wind Energy

Energy transition is a difficult topic in the nuclear nation of France. And no change in sight in the foreseeable future...

Peaceful protests quickly can turn to violence in France (Image: Pixabay)Peaceful protests quickly can turn to violence in France (Image: Pixabay)

If ENERCON was a French company, the management would have to dress up warmly at the moment, because the French are known for taking their protests to the streets loudly and, in part, with harsh means. In view of the massive job losses recently announced by the German wind turbine manufacturer, burning straw bales and tractors blocking the plant entrance would probably only be a matter of time.

But the wind industry in France is increasingly feeling the displeasure of the French people anyway. German wind power opponents can only dream of scenarios such as those that occurred recently at the inauguration of the first French offshore wind turbine, when workers in the immediate distance set car tires on fire to protest against new labor laws and ecological reforms.

The French's hatred of wind energy is deeply rooted. The country still gets 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear power plants, and despite the government's announcement after the Fukushima disaster to reduce this share to 50 percent by 2025, little has been done about the energy transition so far. On the contrary - many residents and politicians are not afraid to openly express their approval for nuclear power.

As one of the largest French newspapers, Le Figaro recently analysed, there are many reasons why the French reject wind energy. "From the bourgeois people to the fighters of the extreme left, anarchists, fishermen and rich landowners, resistance to wind power has become much more diverse. What do the opponents have against wind power? There is the fact that the facilities are an ugly sight near houses and historical monuments. Adding up to this is the noise, the flashing lights at night and the risk of corruption and conflicts of interest on the part of the politicians involved," the newspaper explained.

Wind turbines were to be erected 25 kilometres from Mont Saint Michel, but courts stopped this project (Image: Pixabay)

Arguments that are also known to the neighbouring states. However, the approval rate of the citizens in Germany, Europe's largest wind power producer, where almost 30,000 turbines are installed, is completely different. Two thirds of the people are in favour of wind energy, as regular surveys have shown. And the wind industry employs more than 150,000 people - a completely different figure from France, where out of 66 million French only just under 10,000 are employed in wind industry.

So it's not surprising that it takes a long time in France before a wind farm is completed: It's uncommon for a time span of up to nine years between application and inauguration to occur, as The Local reports. In Germany, the procedure usually only takes about four years. Especially as the resistance mostly manifests locally when it comes to seeing the facilities from residential buildings or possibly endangering the environment and animals.

Therefore offshore wind energy has also met with great approval both in Germany and in the home country of the offshore wind world market leader Great Britain. What the French think about this is still unclear, because even seven years after the first tender, none of the planned offshore wind farms could be realized, as the Saarbrücker Zeitung writes. This is not due to protest though, but to the seabed, which drops steeper off the coast than, for example, the shallow North Sea.

So it will probably be some time before the energy transition in France really gets started.

Author:
Katrin Radtke
Email:
press@windfair.net
Keywords:
France, wind energy, protest, nuclear, energy transition, offshore, wiond turbine



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