Power cuts for up to 60 percent of the French possible

Nuclear power plant in Fessenheim

France cannot currently meet its electricity needs on its own.

(Photo: dpa)

Paris The French government wants to avoid a power failure in winter with an emergency plan. Although a blackout is considered unlikely, France is nevertheless preparing for shortages in the power supply. Government spokesman Olivier Véran called “extraordinary measures as a last resort”.

The reason for the supply bottlenecks, which are expected in January in particular, is the delayed maintenance of many nuclear reactors. At the end of November, 21 of the 56 nuclear reactors were not running. Maintenance work, corrosion problems, the pandemic and strikes have the French energy group EDF slowed down. Eleven piles are to be reopened in December.

The French must therefore prepare for the two-hour interruption in supply. It is said to be local power outages that affect small areas and not entire cities or an entire department.

According to the plan, the electricity could be interrupted between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. or between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. In this case, the population would be alerted via the central Ecowatt warning app. Hospitals and other important facilities such as the fire brigade and police should be spared. The outages could affect 60 percent of consumers across the country, and around 20 percent in Paris.

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Internet and telephones do not work in the event of a failure, trains and subways should not run. Schools are said to remain closed when power is cut off in an area. It is still questionable whether the central emergency number 112 will still be available.

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne

Paris expects power supply bottlenecks.

(Photo: AP)

According to Xavier Piechaczyk, head of the network operator RTE, there could be more than ten outages in winter if the nuclear reactors are not started up and it gets particularly cold. If it stays warmer, up to six failures cannot be ruled out.

How badly the people in France will be affected depends not only on the weather and the progress made with nuclear power plants, but also on the neighboring countries. France has to buy electricity from its European partners, mainly from Germany and Belgium, but also from Spain and Great Britain. France has just signed a solidarity agreement with Germany. Germany supplies electricity to France and France supplies gas to Germany.

However, the capacities for this are not unlimited, but depend on the supply situation in Germany.

France’s dependency on other countries for electricity has never been so high. The number of days on which electricity was imported from other countries increased from 17 in 2018 to 220 this year by the end of November alone. Before that, France was a major exporter of electricity. In 2014 and 2015, no electricity was introduced at all.

More: Gas against electricity – Germany is now receiving gas from France

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