France needs 'massive' renewables growth, nuclear not only energy solution, says PM

PARIS, May 18 (Reuters) - France needs “massive and rapid” growth in renewable energy capacity and nuclear power is not the country’s only energy solution, new Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Thursday.

Philippe, who was appointed by newly inaugurated President Emmanuel Macron, used to work as head of public affairs for state nuclear energy group Areva, parts of which are set to be absorbed by EDF, the state power utility which operates the nation’s ageing nuclear power station fleet.

On Wednesday, Macron appointed environmentalist Nicolas Hulot as his environment minister with responsibility for energy matters - a move that hit EDF’s share price.

Nuclear power accounts for about three-quarters of French power generation at present.

France needs “to reach the objectives set out by the President,” Philippe said on France Inter radio. “That means an approach founded on the secure base of nuclear and a rapid, massive and visible development of renewables,” he added.

Philippe also said the government would take a “pragmatic” approach regarding France’s future energy and power supplies. (Reporting by Andrew Callus and Jean-Baptiste Vey; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)