Purchasing power law promises more shale gas and coal

The discussions were to end on Wednesday July 20 in the evening. Consideration of the bill on purchasing power by the National Assembly was finally extended by 24 hours. The debates are stormy on the first part of the text, which concerns the remuneration of employees. Will the energy measures, which should be discussed this Thursday, be debated as much ?

All title III of the bill is devoted to strengthens energy sovereignty » from the country. The government is preparing for the difficult winter ahead. The reason: the sharp drop in Russian gas supplies and idling nuclear power plants. But the provisions mainly meant increasing our consumption of shale gas and coal.

The State did not anticipate the crises at all, it did not take massive measures of sobriety, it did not develop renewables enough… And now the emergency solution is to reinforce our dependence on fossil fuels »says Adeline Mathien, coordinator of the energy network at France Nature Environnement (FNE). Four points debated on the occasion of this bill go in this direction.

1 – More shale gas importer

This is the purpose of articles 13 and 14 of the bill currently mentioned. Article 13 opens a special administrative regime » for floating LNG terminals. This is a solution to quickly increase natural gas import capacity and restore a gas system to ensure consumer supply français »the government explains in its explanatory memorandum to the bill.

Article 14 is more specific. As Reporterre As you have already mentioned, it concerns the floating LNG terminal project planned in Le Havre by TotalÉnergies. It makes it possible to derogate from certain environmental study obligations and to introduce administrative simplifications to speed up its implementation. This terminal can increase imports of shale gas from the United States and gas from Qatar.

Despite these treatments, it would only be put into service in a year, a year and a half, it does not respond to the emergency of next winter »disputes Adeline Mathien. And it takes us into a ten, twenty year addiction to shale gas »denounces Maryse Arditi, of the industrial risks network of FNE. It takes ten years to depreciate an LNG terminal, twenty years to make it rentable. The supply contracts with the countries are not signed only for two or three years. All of this is the beginning of a cross on the energy transition. »

For the government, a floating terminal is a reversible solution, compatible with the outlook for a drop in natural gas consumption over the next few years », he says in the explanatory memorandum. To pay FNEthis provision is a legislative jumper, a surprising provision in a purchasing power law.

2 – Bringing a coal-fired power plant back into operation

In its presentation of the law, the government is clear: Given the low availability of nuclear power plants (…) and the risks to gas supply resulting from the war in Ukraine », France could owe electricity this winter. The solution ? Operate coal-fired power plants. »

This is what clauses 15 and 16 of the bill prepare for. They pave the way for the flow of the Saint-Avold coal-fired power plant (Moselle), closed on March 31. For this, they deserved that employees who had been priced to retrain could be rehired for a given period. And the authorized greenhouse gas emission ceiling has been raised. These additional emissions will be offset, the government promises.

The Émile Huchet plant in Saint-Avold (Moselle). Wikimedia Commons/CC BYHER 3.0/Jean-Marc Pascolo

One recovery only temporary »had reassured the Ministry of Energy Transition at the end of June. We remained, in any case, below 1 % of electricity produced by coal. No Russian coal would be used »he had specified.

3 – Increase gas stocks

Article 10 provides for a whole set of measures to ensure that at the 1uh November, gas stocks will be at their highest. These actions can cover about 50 % of needs during peak consumption periods », justifies the government. But there is no parallel no gas consumption reduction target »deplores Maxime Combes, an economist specializing in climate policies in a column on Mediapart.

Follows article 11, authorizing natural gas network operators to provide in contracts for power cuts to preserve the functioning of the networks when this is seriously threatened », Bill explains. Article 12 goes in the same direction: it allows the Minister for Energy Transition to suspend the operation of gas-fired power stations (which transform gas into electricity), in order to supply gas to other uses » in case of emergency.

These provisions anticipate the risk of cuts. However, Emmanuel Macron ensures that the risks this winter are non-existent. If this risk is nil, then the provisions of Articles 11 and 12 are unnecessary. If this risk exists, then the rationing it induces needs to be debated publicly: which consumption is essential and which is considered unnecessary ? » reacts Maxime Combes.

4 – No measures for sobriety or renewables

While Emmanuel Macron announced a sobriety plan on July 14, the word does not appear once in the bill. The same goes for renewable energies. A law acceleration of the energy transition » was to be presented at the start of the parliamentary session, it will finally wait for the start of the school year.

However, the only one chose that can reduce energy consumption by 10 % in six months is sobriety »insists Maryse Arditi. The next three years promise to be difficult, we must launch an extremely strong sobriety policy. » On heating to 19°C in public buildings, lighting in municipalities, illuminated signs, we already have a body of regulatory measures that we are struggling to enforce »recalls Adeline Mathien.

We must launch an extremely strong sobriety policy »

The Pact of the power to live, which brings together more than sixty solidarity and ecological organizations, proposes to bet on the energy renovation of buildings. She is one of the keys to reducing polluting emissions and household energy expenditure »recalls a press release on the purchasing power bill.

In this period of heat wave and gigantic forest fires, all these proposals seem to be able to wait. Maxime Combes sees a “schism of reality” that researchers and climate activists have not ceased to observe for thirty years: while the effects of global warming are combined in the present through ever stronger and faster intensities and frequencies, climate policies are watered down, pushed back or even restored by measures aimed at preserving the energy status quo. »

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