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    France prepares for possible power outages this winter


    December 7, 2022 - CE Noticias Financieras

     

      Fears are growing in France aboutpossible power cuts this winter. The French Executive will send in the next days a circular to the prefects (equivalent of the delegates of the Government) so that they prepare their territories for possible partial and programmed blackouts of electricity in January. This text, according to government sources, will serve to "finish preparing the country" for these cuts, which are only a "hypothesis" at the moment. "We will only cut if the cold weather is confirmed, if we have a problem of production or interconnection (with neighboring countries) and if consumption does not decrease," the same sources said.

      The Gallic authorities are increasingly concerned about the possibility that the electricity system will be very stressed early next year. Alarms were raised by RTE's November 18 warning about the situation of French nuclear power plants. According to this body in charge of the electricity grid, only "65%" of the reactors' production capacity will be available in January . The nuclear fleet, which under normal circumstances produces 70% of France's electricity, has been operating at half throttle since the summer, due to maintenance work, corrosion problems and strikes by its workers. The work to reactivate it turned out to be slower than expected

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      This

      is

      in addition to the low temperatures in France at the moment, which raises fears of a rather cold winter and, consequently, a higher demand for electricity. Nor does the context of the energy crisis throughout Europe, which limits the ability of the French to import energy from neighboring countries such as Spain, invite optimism.

      Cuts of a maximum of 2 hours

      Faced with this scenario, the state-owned electricity company Enedis is already rehearsing possible scheduled outages in order to relieve the demand for electricity and avoid a general blackout. These interruptions, which are only a "hypothesis" in the worst case scenario, would last a maximum of two hours. They would only take place between Monday and Friday, in the morning (between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m.) and in the evening (between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.). The affected areas would be informed the day before in the afternoon.

      The circulars to be sent to prefects will be aimed at getting them to select those essential places where there will be no power cuts, such as hospitals, industries, police stations or fire stations, as well as railway lines or the Paris subway. Schools could be affected. Inhabitants of the whole of metropolitan France, with the exception of Corsica, which is connected to the Italian power grid, could be affected.

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      Although this is only a "hypothesis", the government has already reported on these possible cuts at press conferences and in "off the record" talks with journalists. These were one of the main topics of interest of television and radio news in the last few days. It cannot be ruled out that, in anticipation of this critical scenario, the centrist Executive intends to put pressure on the French to be more rigorous in their gestures of energy sobriety.

      Sobriety measures insufficient?

      Scalded by the revolt of the yellow vests, the government of Emmanuel Macron took virtually no coercive measures to reduce energy consumption. These were satisfied with limiting heating to 19°C in public buildings and making communicative campaigns - in some cases branded as "ridiculous" such as that of ministers claiming to dress in turtleneck sweaters.

      According to the latest data, electricity consumption decreased in France by 5% compared to the 2014-2019 average. This reduction, however, was mainly due to industry and was much lower for individuals. Due to a timid policy on sobriety and the problems of the nuclear fleet, power cuts became a plausible hypothesis in France.

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