Macron says ‘the ball is in Britain’s court’
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The UK already hugely depends on France as a source of energy. In terms of renewable energy, Britain looks to Paris to help power its industries and homes. That dependency is expected to increase as the UK pushed to phase out fossil fuels as it transitions to a net zero economy, a target that Boris Johnson plans to reach by 2050.
An important part of reaching that target was set out in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s 10-point plan for a “green industrial revolution”.
In this blueprint, Mr Johnson lays out his plan to decarbonise the economy, and an important aspect of that was a drive to advance nuclear power, as well as advancing offshore wind.
This could spell good news for France, which already generate a fifth of the UK’s electricity through eight nuclear power stations owned by its state-owned energy company, EDF.
With plans to expand their influence over UK’s nuclear power, EDF’s Hinkley Point C in Somerset will provide low-carbon electricity for around six million homes.
Sizewell C will be an almost identical replica of Hinkley Point C and could prove crucial to Mr Johnson’s net-zero plans as it is tipped to save nine million tonnes of CO2 a year
But EDF’s control over the UK stretches further still.
They are also in control of 37 onshore wind farms including 59 turbines at
Dorenell Wind Farm, EDF’s largest European onshore wind farm.
Adding to that list is also a major offshore wind development at Neart na Goaithe in Scotland.
And that’s not all, as EDF also own a 22 turbine wind farm development at Garn Fach in Wales.
But as well as wind and nuclear power, EDF also plan to play a large role in UK solar power.
The company’s first solar farm of grid-scale at Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire, will be around 139 hectares in size.
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They also have plans for a major solar farm and battery storage project at Longfield, Essex, as they’re already building solar panels on the roofs of a number of Tesco’s largest stores in England which will supply them directly with renewable power.
While these developments look promising for Boris Johnson as he continues to drive to net-zero and reduce emissions, and with more key pledges expected to be announced at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow this week, there is a catch.
Britain and France have been at loggerheads over fishing rights in a post-Brexit row.
While France says the UK is violating part of its Brexit deal, the UK has stood firm against calls to issue more fishing licencing for French boats in Jersey seas.
This has outraged Mr Macron, who has threatened to sanction Britain if they do not back down.
And one measure they may take, which has shaken up Westminster, is cutting off energy supplies.
Clément Beaune, a close ally of the French president, warned last month that would “take measures at the European level or nationally to apply pressure on the United Kingdom.”
“We defend our interests. We do it nicely, and diplomatically, but when that doesn’t work we take measures. The Channel Islands, the UK, are dependent on us for their energy supply. They think they can live on their own and badmouth Europe as well. And because it doesn’t work, they indulge in one-upmanship, and in an aggressive way.”
And the Government has warned that this could have dramatic effects.
Government defence advisor Nicholas Drummond said: “In the short-term if homes and businesses in Britain suffer blackouts as a result of French actions, the damage would be immense.
“Long-term, as we move towards net-zero targets, the need for green energy will see traditional power generation replaced by more eco-friendly solutions.”
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