The TerraWater Scenario is available in english

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Published on 26/05/2023

Robust, sovereign, sustainable, low carbon: a case study for future energy mix

The member states of the European Union have made very different energy policy choices in the past, and address the energy transition, today, each with a specific eye. If one adds the diversity of their contexts and needs, each country becomes a real-life experiment of one energy transition strategy or the other. 

The European Union offers the possibility for any given country to observe and draw conclusions before it must adopt the measures necessary for reform of its national energy system – measures that will consume the country’s resources as well as the credit its decision-makers have with their population. 

Forty-four countries, and as many different approaches to a national energy mix. Each the result of its specific resource availability, economic wealth, cultural heritage, neighbouring countries, geopolitical ties, and history. Forty-four countries bound together by overarching stakes such as climate, environmental protection, and energy sufficiency, as well as by physical electrical connections, imposing on all of Europe the consequences of their individual energy choices. When Poland struggles to phase out  coal, its particulates and toxic gases have health effects on everyone; when Germany chooses to depend on Russian gas, the whole Union bends under Vladimir Putin’s aggression, when it elects to switch to LNG, prices skyrocket for all; when Denmark chooses to cover the Baltic sea with batteries and windmills, the consequences on ecosystems impact the fish stock and marine biodiversity of the entire region, as well as the global metals market; when France relies on nuclear power, the competitiveness of its industry rises sharply to the detriment of its neighbours’; when all reduce their reliance on dispatchable baseload power, it is the whole grid that shivers. 

France has always drawn particular interest as the proof-of-concept of what it means for a major developed country to have so decisively chosen nuclear-powered electricity (today near 70% of its power production).  

But it made that choice in the 1970s, in a context of events and challenges that have since been enriched by new ones: environmental protection, biodiversity loss and climate change.   

Today, it must decide a new the direction it will give its future energy system, and the criteria on which to base its decision. 

Voices of Nuclear, an NGO of volunteer energy enthusiasts and experts, has decided to participate in this effort and propose an approach that has been radically missing in the debate: a search for the most realistic technical optimum, free from dogma, interests, and presumptions, aiming for optimally achieved climate protection, minimisation of environmental footprint, solidarity at all levels and sovereignty of national energy supply. 

We believe the methodology applied and the conclusions of this search for the optimum French energy mix may be of interest to France’s neighbours and beyond, not only because of the impact France’s choices will have on their own welfare, but also because it may feed their thought process on their own future energy mix.  

The crucible of energy mix experiments that is the European continent is just getting richer and richer, as European Member States struggle to decide on a course, faced with the urgency of the choice and the growing impatience of their populations and industries. Let us hope they will manage to find one as realistic, and potentially successful, as TerraWater has demonstrated it could be for France. 

It is the aim of TerraWater to provide an energy system model that may be used as a reference for other countries reflecting on their own energy mix and its integration into the overall European energy system. 

Why this scenario ?

The scenarios put forward for public debate aim to inspire France’s future energy policy, and to this end they outline many options and perspectives of interest.

It seems that the scenarios previously published contain a certain number of elements, which, if selected, would lead to an energy policy that compromises achievement of our objectives, whether this is in terms of the climate, the environment, or energy supply to citizens.

Issues resolved by this scenario

  • Decarbonising the energy mix while minimising the environmental impact of energy production
  • Guarantee energy sovereignty while contributing to European solidarity
  • Giving industries the possibility to grow and decarbonise their activities without financial and technological risks
  • Prioritize electricity, the most versatile and easiest vector to decarbonize
  • Safeguard a democratic system and ensure the environmental objectives are kept beyond 2050
  • Offer a sober, sovereign, and mature solution for electricity storage
  • Limit the use of biomass to a minimum to minimize land use
  • Place nuclear power at the base of the energy mix to ensure optimal use of its properties
  • Use VREs as a real decarbonisation tool and according to their properties

Overview of the French energy mix in 2050

Pitfalls avoided

  • Structural technological, human, and/or geopolitical bets
  • Leaving network stability as a secondary issue
  • Integration of various energy sources without consideration for their technical optimum
  • Redundancies, specifically on the networks
  • Significant environmental footprint of energy generation (resources, land use, wastes)
  • Unilateral perception of the question of European and international solidarity
  • Setting aside the development of hydropower

How do we get there ?

Get all the relevant documents here

Already avaible :

  • The full TerraWater report in english
  • Synthesis : A short document summerizing the main points of the scenario
  • Economic analysis : A document in which we synthetize the economic aspects of energy tranjectory envisionned in the scenario

Comming soon :

  • A comparisson of the existing energy scenarios
  • An annexe on Pumped-hydro annexe detailing all the location identified as viable for the construction of a pumped-hydro storage installation