France is in the process of drafting a law aimed at reforming the country's hydroelectric infrastructure, intending to resolve a longstanding dispute with the European Union and facilitate investments in new capacity. Energy Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher's office announced the proposed legislation, designed to bring hydroelectric units into compliance with European law. However, the law must undergo public consultation and parliamentary approval.
The reform is a response to Brussels' insistence that additional hydroelectric capacity in France should be subject to competitive tenders to encourage new participants.
The proposed law aims to address legal challenges and pave the way for France to enhance its hydroelectric infrastructure, enabling state-owned EDF to carry out substantial modifications and improvements to dams and hydraulic structures. EDF, which owns the majority of hydro production, asserts the potential to develop several gigawatts of additional capacity.
An anonymous source from the energy minister's office emphasized ongoing discussions with Brussels, revealing a shared desire to resolve the dispute that has hindered hydro generation investment for 15 years. The proposed bill seeks to reform the legal framework, allowing the government to facilitate increased investment by EDF without the necessity of opening dams to competition.
The broader French energy sovereignty bill encompasses provisions to uphold the country's nuclear capabilities, expand the next-generation EPR2 nuclear program, and implement new regulations in the electricity market starting January 1, 2026. The legislation also establishes ambitious environmental targets, aiming for a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. Additionally, it targets a 50% reduction in primary consumption from fossil fuels by 2030 compared to 2012 levels and a 65% reduction by 2035.