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The electricity sector in France is dominated by nuclear power, which accounted for 72.3% of total production in 2016, while renewables and fossil fuels accounted for 17.8% and 8.6%, respectively.[1] France has the largest share of nuclear electricity in the world. France's electrical grid is part of the Synchronous grid of Continental Europe and it is among the world's biggest net exporters of electricity. The French nuclear power sector is almost entirely owned by the French government and the degree of the government subsidy is difficult to ascertain because of a lack of transparency.[2]

Cattenom nuclear power station near Luxemburg Wind turbines in Lower Normandy
The Cruas nuclear power plant at night
Left: The Cattenom nuclear power station near Luxemburg
Right: Wind power in France; turbines in Lower Normandy
Bottom: The Cruas nuclear power plant at night.


French import–export balance of electricity in 2016 (TWh)

In 2008 consumption of electricity was on average 8,233 kWh/person. This corresponded to 110% of the EU15 average (7,409 kWh/person) and 91% of the OECD average (8,991 kWh/person).[3]

Electricity per person and by power sourceEdit

Electricity per capita in France (kWh/ hab.)[3]
Use Production Export Exp. % Fossil Nuclear Nuc. % Other RE* Bio+waste Wind Non RE use* RE %*
2004 8,204 9,203 999 12.2% 849 7,209 87.9% 1,061 83 7,060 13.9%
2005 8,215 9,176 961 11.7% 970 7,201 87.7% 924 81 7,210 12.2%
2006 8,140 9,041 901 11.1% 897 6,977 85.7% 1,083 85 6,972 14.3%
2008 8,233 8,984 751 9.1% 853 6,872 83.5% 1,168 91 6,974 15.3%
2009 7,951 8,351 400 5.0% 871 6,371 80.1% 897* 93 121* 6,840 14.0%
* Other RE is waterpower, solar and geothermal electricity and wind power until 2008
* Non RE use = use – production of renewable electricity
* RE % = (production of RE / use) * 100% Note: European Union calculates the share of renewable energies in gross electrical consumption.

Mode of productionEdit

Electricity production by source (1960–2012)[4] Percentage figures for 2012.
External image
  Current grid status

French gross production of electricity was 557 terawatt-hours (TWh) in 2014,[5]:27 slightly down from 570 and 567 TWh produced in 2008 and 2004, respectively. France is the world's 9th largest producer of electricity.[5]:27[6] France is also the world's second largest producer of nuclear electricity, behind the United States and ahead of Russia and Korea. In terms of nuclear's share on the total domestic electricity generation, France has by far the highest percentage portion of any country in the world (78.4% in 2014, also see chart "Electricity production by source").[5]:17

Nuclear powerEdit

The French nuclear power is almost entirely owned by the French government and its electricity is sold to the government. According to Al Gore the degree of the government subsidy is difficult to ascertain because of a lack of transparencies in the finances of the operation.[2]

The Commissariat à l’Énergie Atomique is the national authority in France. Nuclear companies include EdF and Areva. Électricité de France (EdF) is the main electricity producer. Eurodif is the uranium enrichment plant. Areva NC (France) and Rio Tinto (UK) are the top uranium companies of the world.

France has the largest share of electricity from nuclear power in the world. According to the IEA 77% of its domestic electricity was generated by nuclear power in 2013. The second was Belgium 52.1%, third Slovakia 51.7% and followed by Hungary 50.7%, Ukraine 43.6%, Sweden 42.7%, Switzerland 36.4%, the Czech Republic 35.9%, Slovenia 33.6% and Finland 33.3%[7] France's nuclear reactors comprise 90 per cent of EDFs capacity and so they are used in load-following mode and some reactors close at weekends because there is no market for the electricity.[8][9] This means that the capacity factor is low by world standards, usually in the high seventies as a percentage, which is not an ideal economic situation for nuclear plants.[8]

In terms of installed capacity and produced power in 2013 France was the second largest producer of nuclear energy in the world behind the United States. Installed nuclear capacity was 63.1 GW and power production 403.7 TWh.[7]

France reprocesses its nuclear waste to retrieve plutonium and uranium for use as additional fuel. Fission products are stored in La Hague facility until a deep geological repository for high-level waste can be constructed. A repository for low-level and short-lived intermediate-level nuclear waste is already operational.[10]

The European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) at Flamanville, the first new nuclear reactor to be built in France in 15 years, is now expected to open in 2016 instead of the original starting date of 2012, and will cost €8.5bn instead of the original estimate of €3.3bn.[11]

Hydro powerEdit

Installed hydro electricity power capacity was 25 GW in 2014, and hydro generation was 69 TWh (ranked 10th in the world). Hydro share in total domestic electricity generation was 12.2%.[5]:19

Wind powerEdit

Wind farm in France.

Installed wind power in France was 5,660 MW at the end of 2010 and 4,574 MW at the end of 2009. The share of wind power in the end of 2010 was in average 2.3% of electricity need.[12]

In 2013 electric energy from wind power in France was only produced in onshore wind farms. However, on January 25, 2011, President Nicolas Sarkozy confirmed the tendering process to build France's first five offshore wind farms, expected to have a capacity of 3GW and to be sited off the Atlantic coast between Saint-Nazaire and Dieppe/Le Tréport.[13][14] Tender documents were to be sent out on April 1, with the winning bid announced in early 2012.[14] A second round of bidding to provide a further 3GW of capacity is expected in 2012.[14]

EU and France Wind Energy Capacity (MW)[15][16][17][18]
No Country 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998
- EU-27 105,696 93,957 84,074 74,767 64,712 56,517 48,069 40,511 34,383 28,599 23,159 17,315 12,887 9,678 6,453
5 France 7,196 6,800 5,660 4,492 3,404 2,454 1,567 757 390 257 148 93 66 25 19

Solar powerEdit

France had 4.028 GW of photovoltaics at the end of 2012, installing 1.079 GW that year. The electricity generated in France by photovoltaics was 4,000 GWh in 2011.[19] The largest completed solar park is the 115 MW Toul-Rosières Solar Park.[20]

Fossil FuelsEdit

France imported 22 megatonnes (Mt) of oil products for all purposes in 2014, making it Europe's largest, and the world's 4th largest net-importer of fossil oil, behind Japan (29 Mt), Singapore (26 Mt), and Indonesia (23 Mt).[5]:21 However, the majority of oil was used by the transportation sector (57% in 2011)[21] and not for electricity generation.


France was the leader in the export of electricity in 2008: 48 TWh followed by Paraguay 46 TWh and Canada 32 TWh.[22]

Power stationsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ National yearly power generation by source, Réseau de Transport d'Électricité (Electricity Transmission Network Company) Open Data.
  2. ^ a b Al Gore: Our Choice, A plan to solve the climate crises, Bloomsbury 2009 page 156
  3. ^ a b Energy in Sweden, Facts and figures, The Swedish Energy Agency, (in Swedish: Energiläget i siffror), Table: Specific electricity production per inhabitant with breakdown by power source (kWh/person), Source: IEA/OECD 2006 T23 Archived July 4, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, 2007 T25 Archived July 4, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, 2008 T26 Archived July 4, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, 2009 T25 Archived January 20, 2011, at the Wayback Machine and 2010 T49 Archived October 16, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Electricity production by sources in France 1960–2012 Archived 2014-11-17 at the Wayback Machine, 6 November 2014,
  5. ^ a b c d e International Energy Agency, IEA—Key World Energy Statistics 2016, published October 2016
  6. ^ IEA Key energy statistics 2006 Archived October 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ a b IEA Nuclear Share of Electricity Generation in 2013
  8. ^ a b Kidd, Steve (22 June 2009). "Nuclear in France - what did they get right?". Nuclear Engineering International. Archived from the original on 11 May 2010.
  9. ^ Stephanie Cooke (2009). In Mortal Hands: A Cautionary History of the Nuclear Age, Black Inc., p. 359.
  10. ^ "Nuclear Power in France". WNA. April 2001. Retrieved 02-06-2011. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  11. ^ "EDF raises French EPR reactor cost to over $11 billion". Reuters. 3 December 2012. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
  12. ^ Wind in power 2010 European statistics EWEA February 2011 pages 11, 17
  13. ^ Sarkozy confirms €10bn offshore wind plan BusinessGreen, published 2011-01-25, accessed 2011-05-10
  14. ^ a b c Wind energy fans welcome sarkozy plans but question timing Actmedia, published 2011-01-27, accessed 2011-05-10
  15. ^ EWEA Staff (2010). "Cumulative installed capacity per EU Member State 1998 - 2009 (MW)". European Wind Energy Association. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
  16. ^ EWEA Staff (February 2011). "EWEA Annual Statistics 2010" (PDF). European Wind Energy Association. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
  17. ^ EWEA Staff (February 2012). "EWEA Annual Statistics 2011" (PDF). European Wind Energy Association. Retrieved 2011-02-18.
  18. ^ Wind in power: 2012 European statistics February 2013
  19. ^ Photovoltaic Barometer
  20. ^ Marguerite Fund Buys Into France’s Largest Solar Park
  21. ^ "IEA Energy Supply and Security Report 2014" (PDF).
  22. ^ IEA Key stats 2010 pages electricity 27 gas 13,25 fossil 25 nuclear 17