The cold spell at the beginning of April almost led to another nationwide blackout in France. The French were lucky that the cold spell only came in April, because at that time renewable energies were already producing significantly more electricity than in the previous winter months. The tense situation prompted the French network operator RTE to publicly call on consumers to save electricity.
French grid operator calls on population to save electricity
In France, the majority of households heat with electricity. The apartments are often poorly insulated. Particularly in the south of the country, people often heat with additional electric fan heaters during a cold spell. This repeatedly leads to problems with the power supply in France in winter. For this reason, the network operator RTE called on all citizens on April 4 to reduce their consumption between 6 a.m. and 12 p.m. despite the cold snap. This was already the second call this year.
27 of 56 nuclear reactors off the grid
The situation has come to a head because 27 of the total of 56 nuclear reactors are currently not on the grid due to repair and maintenance work. As a result, the nuclear power plants, with 32 gigawatts, have not even been able to cover half of the electricity demand. Normally, France covers more than 70 percent of its needs with nuclear power. The French were still lucky in this respect, as solar plants were still able to support the power supply with seven gigawatts around noon. In addition, coal-fired power plants that had already been shut down were reactivated and 10 gigawatts of power were imported from neighboring European countries. All these rescue measures caused the price on the electricity exchange to rise to an absurdly high level of over 3,000 euros per megawatt hour.
France to build 14 new nuclear power plants
The power supply in France is becoming increasingly critical from winter to winter. The main cause is the outdated nuclear park. More and more of these old reactors are showing deficiencies in safety inspections that require lengthy repairs. Macron has announced the construction of 14 new nuclear power plants, but it will be several years before they actually produce electricity. So in the coming winters, there will again be calls to the population to save electricity.