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Twelve years after Fukushima, the nuclear industry has succeeded in its rehabilitation in France, both in the policies pursued by the executive and in French opinion. Historians and energy specialists analyze this reversal.
If we believe opinion polls, electricity of nuclear origin has regained favor in the eyes of the French. These are now mostly “for” the fact that the plants – at least those located far from home – continue to operate. Five years ago, there was nothing to predict this trend reversal. “In Europe, nuclear appeared to be an industry that was at the end of its cycle, with the withdrawal of Germany after the Fukushima disaster, or the aging of the French fleet… notes Francis Chateauraynaud, a sociologist specializing in issues of health and environmental risks. From now on, nuclear power is once again defended as an energy of the future…” A changeover which is also political, as marked by the future of an oh so symbolic measure: the objective of reducing the share of nuclear power in electricity production to 50% by 2025, voted under Hollande in 2015, first of all been pushed back a decade at the start of Macron’s first five-year term, before being buried on Tuesday during the examination of the bill on the future of nuclear power, at the bend of an amendment pushed by the executive.
“Abundant and cheap”
Simon Persico, professor of political science specializing in environmental policies at Sciences-Po Grenoble, traces the main lines of this passionate story. “Since the moment when France invested massively to become a nuclear champion, in 1973, and over nearly fifty