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Electric Cars May Make French Power Demand Rise Again, EDF Says

The French utility will boost the number of car charging stations it operates

(Bloomberg) --The French government could be wrong to assume that power demand will stagnate or decline because electric cars could boost consumption, according to the boss of the country’s largest utility.

The cautious view would be to plan for a “slight” increase in power demand, Electricite de France SA Chief Executive Officer Jean-Bernard Levy said at a press conference in Paris. He was unveiling EDF’s plan to install charging stations for electric vehicles in Western Europe.

His comments come as Ecology Minister Francois de Rugy, who wants to close some of the utility’s aging atomic stations, is preparing to unveil France’s energy road map for the next 10 years. Rugby foresees “a sort of stagnation” in power demand thanks to efficiency gains in the coming years, with a pickup in demand from 2030 or 2035. This rise in consumption will have to be met with nuclear, hydropower and renewables, he said, adding that the government will be very careful to maintain the safety of power supplies.

For years the country has relied on EDF’s 58 atomic reactors for more than 70 percent of its electricity, but it plans to reduce nuclear’s share of the power mix to just half of the total by 2035 and to boost the use of renewable energy. EDF has said it’s confident it can safely operate all its reactors for 60 years. However, it’s willing to halt some after 50 years of operation, starting in 2029, to spread the shutdowns over a longer period of time.

EDF forecasts that electric vehicles will represent about 30 percent of new car sales in France, the U.K., Italy and Belgium by 2030 as European Union governments tightened a proposed cap on carbon dioxide from cars.

The French utility will boost the number of car charging stations it operates in France, the U.K., Italy and Belgium to 75,000 in 2022 from about 5,000 currently, the EDF CEO said Wednesday.

France also plans to cut emissions by shutting all its coal-fired power plants by 2022 and curbing consumption of oil with subsidies for cleaner cars

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