Gas more important, nuclear still energy option: GDF Suez

15th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

The head of French power giant GDF Suez said Tuesday that gas will figure more prominently in the energy equation in light of the nuclear crisis in Japan although atomic power must remain an option.

"Gas represents an energy source ... which will probably be more highly valued (because) ... it is very clean," GDF Suez chief executive Gerard Mestrallet told a press event.

Gas prices have soared in the past few days as Japan -- already the world's largest buyer of liquefied natural gas -- has bought even more to help make up for the energy shortfall after Friday's massive earthquakes closed down much of its nuclear capacity.

"It is difficult to know what has happened and will happen now (in Japan) ... but it is clear that everything will have to be looked at again," he said.

GDF Suez -- in which GDF stands for the former Gaz de France -- is in the process of taking over Britain's International Power, creating the world's second largest electricity producer.

Mestrallet said that in France, which sources 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear energy, the facilities would need to be checked to make sure they comply with all safety requirements but the industry was nonetheless a key asset for the country.

"The nuclear plants exist, they are of very good quality in France," he said, adding that to reduce the role of atomic energy here "would not really make much sense."

Elsewhere there might be changes to the energy mix, he said, and GDF Suez itself favoured a balanced generation profile -- a mixture of nuclear, renewables, gas and hydro-power.

"France today has neither oil, gas or coal but we do have nuclear," he said, noting that the company produces 11 percent of its energy from nuclear plants.

© 2011 AFP

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