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France calls Germany to make grand green alliance

Staff writer |
France wants to establish a grand alliance with Germany as it seeks to hasten its move toward renewable energy.

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French President Francois Hollande even hinted at the creation of a Franco-German company that could help the two nations as they make major shifts in energy policy. A joint renewables office was established last year in Berlin and Paris to try to coordinate the rollout of renewables, but this is the first time that the idea has been raised publicly.

Both France and Germany are undertaking major transformations of their electricity grids. Germany has vowed to close down the last of its nuclear plants by 2022, and the new grand coalition has agreed on a target of 55 percent to 60 percent renewables by 2035. France wants to reduce its nuclear share from 75 percent to 50 percent by 2025.

Mr. Hollande said it was essential for France and Germany to coordinate their energy transitions. "It's a big challenge for Europe, but we must, France and Germany, be examples."

The idea of a pan-European mega solar factory has been promoted by Eicke Weber, the head of Fraunhofer ISE. Mr. Weber advocates PV 2.0, an ambitious plan to create factories of multi-gigawatt capacity to ensure that the global market is producing enough gigawatts a year to meet demand.

"If, in 2050, when solar electricity might cost us 2 to 3 cents per kilowatt-hour, when it is the least expensive way of electricity, it would need total installed capacity of 10,000 gigawatts of solar PV to meet just 10 percent of the world's demand. Today, we have just 100 gigawatts. We need to get to annual production of 300 gigawatts very soon. Even with that, we would take 30 years to get to that target.

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