London — France and Germany should work together towards a clean energy future, as both countries' baseload-heavy power systems are set to exit coal and nuclear, Berlin-based think tank Agora Energiewende and the French Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations, or IDDRI, said Wednesday.
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The joint paper was released ahead of Thursday's joint French-German cabinet meetings in Paris, the first under new French President Macron. It calls for a joint strategic vision on the two country's energy transition, a joint initiative on carbon pricing, and the coordinated development of renewable energies, among other elements. It also called for a new focus on "transport transition" following new French energy minister Nicolas Hulot's call last week for the end of gasoline and diesel car sales in France by 2040.
According to the think tanks, energy policy decisions taken in one country invariably have repercussions for the other, as well as their neighbors, with Germany and France currently Europe's biggest exporters of electricity or around 100 TWh annually, but both planning nuclear and coal exits set to reduce their baseload power oversupply.
Germany and France have worked closely together in the past setting up joint half-yearly cabinet meetings in 2003, but the election of Macron has renewed the potential for closer cooperation across all areas with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's party focusing closely on the Franco-German cooperation to reform the European Union in the wake of Brexit.
The paper includes a proposal to exclude green energy investments from eurozone debt criteria, integrated national energy and climate plans as well as a new 'high commissioner for climate change' position proposal to coordinate energy and climate meetings within the European Union.
Regarding joint carbon price measures, which would benefit French nuclear but disadvantage German coal plants, the think tanks propose a clear commitment by France to reduce the share of nuclear in their power mix.
France may consider closing up to 17 nuclear reactors by 2025 in order to achieve its target of a reduction of the share of nuclear in the power mix to 50% from currently almost 80%, Hulot said Monday in a radio interview.
France also plans to close its remaining coal-fired power plants by 2022.
Germany, which plans to phase out its nuclear power plants by 2022, so far has shied away from any detailed coal exit plans, but like France shares the target to decarbonize its energy system by 2050.
Germany faces parliamentary elections in September with Merkel's CDU/CSU party the clear favorite to emerge again with the most representatives but unlikely to achieve an absolute majority.
This would make coalition negotiations a key feature of the formation of a government, with smaller parties such as the Green Party or the liberal FDP often able to move some of their key pledges onto the government agenda.
--Andreas Franke, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Edited by Richard Rubin, email@example.com