France aims to lead in green energy, small reactors in 30-billion-euro innovation plan

PARIS (Reuters) -France wants to be a leader in green hydrogen by 2030 and build new, smaller nuclear reactors as part of a 30 billion euro ($35 billion) investment plan aimed at fostering industrial champions and innovation, President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday.

Speaking six months before the presidential election, Macron said the road map, dubbed “France 2030”, would ensure the country massively decarbonises its industry and brings innovation and production in key areas closer to home, from cars and biomedicine to energy.

Setting out some of the plan’s targets, Macron said France would by 2030 build a low-carbon plane, a small modular reactor as well as two megafactories for the production of green hydrogen. It would also produce large numbers of electric vehicles.

“We must wage the battle of innovation and industrialisation at the same time,” Macron told a group of entrepreneurs, adding: “We need a country that produces more.”

Macron said the plan will give a key role to small, agile start-ups in building France’s industrial future alongside well-established giants.

Pointing to a shortage of face masks when the COVID-19 pandemic first erupted, Macron said the crisis had shown, on one side, a real vulnerability for all, and, on the other side, how crucial innovation and industrial production close to home are.

“We must rebuild the framework for productive independence for France and Europe,” he said, adding that innovation would be key amid global competition for leadership and access to raw materials. “The winner takes it all,” he added.

Other 2030 objectives include investing in semi-conductors and beefing up innovation in the French health sector, including biomedicine.

The 30 billion euros come in addition to a 100-billion-euro recovery plan announced last year to help France weather the coronavirus pandemic, a large share of which went to promoting greener energy policies.

The wide-ranging plan was swiftly criticised by the opposition, with rivals saying this was electoral campaigning.

 

“A few months from the end of his mandate, the outgoing president commits French money to restore his electoral image with promises which only bind his successor,” far-right leader Marine Le Pen said on Twitter (NYSE:TWTR).

“It’s the “whatever the cost, I want to be re-elected!,” she said of Macron.

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