France’s energy minister on Monday proposed a plan to spend €1.1 billion on the country’s power plants, as it tries to overcome years of crippling blackouts.
Pascal Faucher said the plan would be unveiled on Tuesday as part of a “major overhaul of the energy sector”, which has seen France slash its electricity output by 40% since 2010, while its gas output has plunged by 30%.
The minister said the spending was part of France’s effort to “bring energy prices back to where they should be”, and that it would be financed by an additional €100 billion in taxes and subsidies over the next five years.
“This will allow us to deliver on our commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions and ensure that we achieve the Paris agreement goal of zero emissions by 2030,” Fauchard said in a statement.
He added that the budget would also be the first for the energy minister since the end of his term in 2019.
“This budget is based on the fact that energy is our most important industry and a lot of it is dependent on the electricity sector, but it is not sustainable without investment in renewables and energy efficiency,” he said.
France has a long history of blackouts, which have led to the country being shut out of international markets, but there have been several successes in recent years, with new nuclear plants coming online in 2017 and 2020.
The latest blackouts have caused a spike in carbon dioxide emissions in the country, which is already one of the world’s worst polluters.
On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that the country would spend up from its existing budget of €1,600 per household for a two-week period to help with blackouts in 2022.
While many of the blackouts that have occurred in recent months have been caused by natural phenomena, Faucherer said that “the crisis is becoming more acute”.
“This is the consequence of an excessive reliance on gas and coal in electricity generation and also of the increasing use of renewable energy.”
While Fauches plan does not mention gas or coal, he said that the new plan would “help to provide alternative sources of electricity”, in particular solar, wind and biomass.
The government has been struggling to keep up with the increase in blackouts and has announced that it will spend up 10% of its budget to invest in renewables by 2020.
The French government has said it expects its current deficit to be cut by up to 3% of GDP in 2020, and to be less than 10% by 2022.