The number of automobiles in France is among the largest in the world and thus most of the petroleum products produced by the oil refineries in France are consumed by road vehicles. Other sectors which are the largest consumers of petroleum products include air transportation and domestic consumption. Nuclear power and improved refining mechanisms in the petroleum industry have drastically affected the coal industry in France and the reliance on coal as a source of energy has considerably decreased over the years. The coal industry in France is almost on the verge of closing down as the state-owned coal company Charbonnages de France closed all of its production facilities in 2004.
There are two reasons behind this drastic collapse of French coal industry; first being the shifting of most of the power stations towards nuclear fuel and second is the high price involved in mining and refining of coal in France. Investors and industrialist prefer to import cheaper and good quality of coal from other countries rather than buying the local coal which is very expensive owing to the high cost of mining and refining (IBP USA). Currently, coal is being used in some steel refineries and in some thermal power stations however the coal being used is imported from other countries which include United States, South Africa, and Australia.
Recently French government has announced to shut down half of its coal-fired power stations by 2015 as a part of following a plan under which France is set to lower its carbon emissions by 22 percent by the end of the year 2020. The alternative to these power stations will be provided by renewable energy resources and gas-fired stations which have comparatively lesser carbon emissions.
French Energy Minister Jean-Louis Borloo called it a big step towards energy revolution in France as he said while addressing a press conference, “ The energy revolution in France will be through energy savings and the development of renewable energies. ” He further explained that France will increase the number of facilities producing electricity from renewable sources of energy which include solar, biomass, geothermal and solar installations.
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