France prepares for possible power outages this winter

Fear grows in France before possible power outages this winter. The French Executive will send a circular to the prefects (equivalent to the delegates of the Government) to prepare their territories for eventual partial and programmed blackouts of electricity in january. This text, according to government sources, will serve to “finish preparing the country” regarding these cuts, which are only a “hypothesis” at this time. “We will only cut if the cold is confirmed, if we have a production or interconnection problem (with neighboring countries) and if consumption does not decrease,” the same sources indicated.

The French authorities are increasingly concerned about the possibility that the electric system be very stressed at the beginning of next year. The warning of November 18 from RTE about the situation of the nuclear power plants French. According to the agency in charge of the electrical network, in January only “65%” of the production capacity of the reactors will be available. The nuclear park, which under normal circumstances produces 70% of the electricity in France, has been operating at half throttle since the summer, due to maintenance work, corrosion problems and strikes by its workers. The tasks to reactivate it were slower than expected

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

Cuts of a maximum of 2 hours

Faced with this scenario, the state utility Enedis is already rehearsing eventual outages scheduled for the sake of decongest the demand for electricity and avoid a general blackout. These interruptions, which are only a “hypothesis” in the worst case, would last a maximum of two hours. They would only take place between Monday and Friday, in a morning slot (between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m.) and an afternoon slot (between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.). The day before in the afternoon the affected areas would be informed.

The circulars that will be sent to the prefects will have as objective that they select those essential places where outages would not occur, such as hospitals, industries, police stations or fire stations, as well as the railway lines or the Paris metro. Schools could be affected. They could be suffered by inhabitants of all metropolitan France, with the exception of corsicasince it is connected to the Italian electricity grid.

Although this is only a “hypothesis”, The Government has already informed about these possible cuts in press conferences and in “off” talks with journalists. These were one of the main topics of interest on television and radio news in recent days. It cannot be ruled out that, anticipating this critical scenario, the centrist Executive intends to pressure the French to be more rigorous with the energetic sobriety gestures.

Insufficient sobriety measures?

Scalded by the yellow vest revolt, the Government of Emmanuel Macron practically did not adopt coercive measures to reduce power consumption. They were content to limit the heating at 19ºC in public buildings and carry out communication campaigns —in some cases branded as “ridiculous” such as that of the ministers who claimed 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 in the case of individuals. Due to a timid policy in terms of sobriety and the problems of the nuclear park, power outages became a plausible hypothesis in France.


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