Henri Proglio, the head of Électricité de France (EDF), the world’s biggest nuclear electric utility, is, when it comes to the role of nuclear power in France’s electrical future, not on the same public page as François Hollande, the man at the top of the government that owns EDF. Hollande when he was running in 2012 to be France’s president pledged to reduce the share of nuclear power in France’s electricity mix. He has reaffirmed that pledge ever since, and his Socialist Party, which controls both houses of France’s parliament, just last week tabled in the lower house a bill that codifies the reduction in the share of nuclear. During the debate over that bill, Proglio told reporters in London that France’s next door neighbor Germany has created a disaster with similarly anti-nuclear policies. Proglio is right. But that’s the kind of talk that can get you fired. Apparently it HAS gotten Proglio fired.
Speculation in Reuters just yesterday indicated Proglio would rather easily win reinstatement to another term as head of EDF. I just didn’t believe it, and it looks like I may be right. Publicly disagree with your boss over an existential issue and your position is in jeopardy—Hollande’s Socialists lost Green Party support in municipal elections earlier this year, for, among other things, not trying hard enough to live up to his anti-nuclear election promise. You can be as correct as it is possible to be, and on the nuclear issue Proglio is nothing if not utterly correct. Germany’s energy transition is a disaster. If the “ratings agencies”—i.e., green lobby groups—on whom the mainstream media has come to rely for an “objective” assessment of the most effective climate change policies were doing even a small fraction of their self-appointed job, Germany would be in more people’s minds the proper laughing stock that it is. And jurisdictions like France, Ontario, Sweden, Switzerland, and Finland would be held up as the obvious right way to run electricity grids (see article).
But these “ratings agencies” are doing as good a job as Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s did in 2008 of vetting the financial viability of mortgage derivatives. S&P and Moody’s in 2008 let the world sleep-walk up to the metaphorical gates of hell. Today, the green lobby crows with adulation as Germany dumps millions of tons more carbon into our air than it used to; the greens want France to start doing that too. And as they do, the world sleepwalks, if you believe the climate science, to the real gates of hell.
You can know all this, as Proglio obviously does know it, and it does not matter. If a politician comes to believe that it’s you or him, and he has the power to make it you, then you are gone. It matters not today, in 2014, that Henri Proglio will go down in history as a guy who called it right, nor that François Hollande will spend his later years explaining how and why he fell for the green claptrap, especially when it was clear as day in 2014 that the German example was such an embarrassing failure.
What a shame.
Back when France built its fleet of nuclear power reactors and went within two decades from being oil- to nuclear powered and one of the cleanest major countries on the planet, it did so with the same get-it-done attitude as all of the other nuclear jurisdictions. I was at a Canadian nuclear industry gathering last week, and asked a long-time veteran how it was that Ontario transitioned so quickly from being a hydro-coal system to a nuclear one. He said simply “we had a supportive government.”
That was in the seventies and eighties. Did the Ontario government get bang for its buck? Of course. Look at Tables A1 and A2 up on the left. The nuclear fuel category gives the hour-by-hour performance numbers that are the result of the faith that the government showed the nuclear sector. And look at the “CO2, tons” column: all that nuclear electricity comes with none of the CO2 that is destabilizing the global climate.
But that was then and this is now. Today, it’s the green lobby that has the supportive governments. Germany is the biggest example: it has enthusiastically supported “green” energy sources—wind and solar—with strong legislation starting in 2000. But what has Germany accomplished in the 14 years it has had to wow the world with its energy transition?
Higher carbon emissions. Obscenely high electricity prices.
Meanwhile, next door in France, they have power that is five to six times cleaner than in Germany. It also costs half as much. Have a look again at the Electricity Carbon-Emission and Retail Price (ECERP) Matrix; here again is the link.
And now, led by green ideology, France is getting set to aim for parity with Germany: higher carbon emissions, and unnecessarily expensive electricity. Of all countries on earth, you’d think that France would be falling over itself to show the Germans how it’s properly done. But instead France has decided to follow the Germans down the biggest and dumbest rabbit hole in the history of electricity.
And Henri Proglio appears to have been fired for pointing that out.
It’s a crazy mixed up world.