French Renewables Target Unrealistic Without More Spending

France will likely miss a goal for renewables to make up 23 percent of energy consumption by 2020 unless power users stump up billions of euros, according to the state auditor.

French electricity consumers would have to contribute 40.5 billion euros ($54 billion) from 2012 to 2020 toward the development of wind turbines and solar panels among renewables to meet the plan, the Cours des Comptes said today in a report. The 2020 target “will be difficult to reach,” the report said.

France, which gets about three-quarters of its electricity output from nuclear reactors -- a higher proportion than any other country -- is in the midst of a debate about future energy policy. President Francois Hollande has pledged to lower dependance on atomic output while keeping down energy costs for consumers.

The increasing costs of developing renewable energy “raises questions about its sustainability over the long-term” and benefits in terms of jobs for local industries, the auditor said today. The acceptance of renewables by the French population is “often problematic.”

Subsidies to renewables reached 14.3 billion euros from 2005 and 2011, of which 3.3 billion euros was paid by power consumers through a tax on bills, the report said. The spending raised renewables to 13 percent of French energy demand in 2011.

The auditor recommended policy changes including more transparency on costs, jobs and energy markets as well as revising the system whereby subsidies come from power consumers.

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