* French opposition energy specialist supports nuclear
* Mariton says EDF needs all its reactors for spare capacity
* Renewables should be used for transport, not electricity
By Geert De Clercq
PARIS, Oct 19 A string of unscheduled nuclear
reactor closures at French nuclear power utility EDF
show France needs spare generating capacity instead of phasing
out nuclear plants, opposition energy expert Herve Mariton said
Mariton, an ally of leading opposition presidential
candidate Alain Juppe and a prominent energy specialist in the
conservative Les Republicains party, also said he saw no reason
to reduce the share of nuclear in France's electricity mix.
French nuclear watchdog ASN on Tuesday ordered EDF to close
five more nuclear reactors before year-end to check the
resilience of the steel in their steam generators.
EDF now has 20 of its 58 nuclear reactors halted for
maintenance or inspection, forcing the country to import the
equivalent of the production of about four nuclear plants from
Mariton rejected the Socialist government's plan to close
EDF's ageing Fessenheim nuclear plant when its new reactor opens
in Flamanville in 2018, as the country needs reserve capacity.
"The necessary temporary closure of a number of reactors
means we need a margin of spare capacity which we do not have
today," Mariton told reporters.
Mariton, who has led several parliamentary reports about the
nuclear industry, made a bid to run for president himself, but
rallied behind Juppe when he failed to get sufficient support.
Juppe is favourite to represent the centre-right in next year's
"We do not want to close Fessenheim. Considering that a
larger part of our nuclear fleet may have to face temporary
closures, we need Fessenheim and Flamanville," he said.
He said this did not rule out renewable energy, but said the
French answer to a decarbonised world was largely nuclear.
"The issue of renewables in France is not electricity but
other forms of energy," Mariton said, adding France would need
to focus more on methanisation and new forms of energy for
He said public subsidies should be primarily used to
incentivise replacement of fossil fuel in transport rather than
to change the electricity power mix.
He said the target in the Socialist government's energy
transition law of reducing France's reliance on nuclear for
power to 50 percent by 2025 from 75 percent today is absurd.
He said it does make sense to study whether the electricity
mix in France needs to be rebalanced.
"I do not know whether it should be 50 percent, but we are
probably too mono-nuclear, one should not put all one's eggs in
one basket. But there is no reason to do this in a rush," he
(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Adrian Croft)