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France has a long history of using alternative sources of fuel to generate electricity. After the global oil crisis of the early 1970’s France embarked on an ambitious program to ensure energy independence and today generates about 75% of its electricity from nuclear. While nuclear may not be the greenest source of energy, on our recent trip to Bretagne we saw an example (or I should say, many, many examples!) of another way that France is seeking to maintain its energy-independence with cleaner, greener, renewable sources of energy.
Relatively flat, with lots of open space, and bordered by ocean, la Bretagne is an ideal region for an important source of renewable energy today, les éoliennes. It seemed like as soon as we crossed into Bretagne on our long drive from Paris they started to appear. No matter what direction we looked, the horizon was dotted with mechanical giants. Since 2010, la Bretagne has had its own energy initiative aimed at securing the supply of energy in Bretagne that comes from Bretagne. A major part of this initiative is increasing the production and use of renewable energy (les énergies renouvelables).
La Bretagne is also home to the world’s oldest tidal power station. Situated at the estuary of the Rance river which empties out into the English channel between the Breton cities of Dinard and St. Malo la barrage de la Rance (the Rance dam) has been generating hydroelectricity from the power of the tides since 1966. If you visit Brittany, you can drive right over the barrage de la Rance between St. Malo and Dinard!
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Wind turbines – By Michael Bissonnette