France mired in nuclear debate

Former Areva chief executive Anne Lauvergeon has reignited a debate about the future of nuclear power, raising doubts about a current target to reduce France's dependency on the technology in favour of renewables.

To reduce the country's share of nuclear power from 75% now to 50% of its electricity output by 2025 as the government aims for isn't realistic, Lauvergeon told France Inter yesterday,

Keeping that target would mean that 20 nuclear reactors have to be shut down,Lauvergeon said, who now presides the "Innovation 2030" commission that President François Hollande set up in April.

The commission is supposed to advise the French government on in what sectors and with which technologies the country can become a field leader by 2030.

Lauvergeon in her interview said she believes the 2025 date for the nuclear reduction has been "more or less pushed back" to a later date.

People close to Hollande as well as environment minister Philippe Martin according to French media have denied Lauvergeon's claim.

That (pushing back the year of the nuclear reduction target) "may be in her head, but it isn't in mine," Martin is quoted as saying on the website of L'Expansion magazine, adding that he will stick to the target.

Reducing France's dependency on nuclear power had been one of Hollande's campaign promises ahead of his election in 2012.