* France mulls full exit by 2040-2050, not govt's choice
* Option part of wider study on French future energy mix
* Poll showed three quarters of French want full exit
(Adds details, background)
PARIS, July 8 France raised the possibility for
the first time of pulling out of nuclear power although its
energy minister stressed on Friday that this was just one of
many scenarios, not the one favoured by the government.
Energy Minister Eric Besson announced on radio Europe 1 the
launch of a study on Friday on the country's energy mix by 2050,
with options including a complete exit from nuclear production,
a cut in the share of nuclear to 50 percent and a progressive
reduction of total electricity production in France.
"We will study all possible scenarios for what we call the
energy mix," he said. "It will be done with total objectivity,
in full transparency, without avoiding any scenario (...)
including the scenarios of a nuclear exit."
An energy ministry official told Reuters one scenario would
consider a total exit from nuclear by 2050, or even 2040.
However, Besson stressed that he favoured keeping nuclear's
share in France's overall power output at two thirds, compared
with 74 percent in 2010.
"(A pullout) is not my conviction, it is not the choice of
the government and of the president but at the same time we
can't exclude anything," he stressed.
PUBLIC OPINION FAVOURS PULLOUT
In contrast to Germany, which said in May it would withdraw
completely from nuclear energy production by 2022, France has
been a strong proponent of nuclear power and the government had
ruled out dropping it as an energy source.
Although France's deep dependence on nuclear makes a
dramatic volte-face a massive task, with a May 2012 presidential
election approaching the government may be tempted to suggest
that it is considering a possible pullout.
A poll last month showed three quarters of the French people
interviewed wanted to withdraw from nuclear energy, against 22
percent who back the nuclear expansion programme.
While the centre-right UMP party mostly supports the
extension of the nuclear programme, the opposition Socialist
Party has called for a moratorium on new reactors and promised a
national debate on energy transition if elected in 2012.
Shares of French electricity maker EDF , which
supervises 58 nuclear reactors in France, fell nearly 1 percent
after news that France would examine a full exit from nuclear.
(Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry, Writing by Sybille de La
Hamaide; Editing by Anthony Barker)