We are witnessing how governments all around Europe have started to impose severe restrictions on energy use.
Another European country which will be facing blackouts this coming winter is France. This winter France will be facing a significant risk of electricity shortages and is not ruling out managed blackouts according to Joannes Laveyne a researcher at the Ghent University electrical energy laboratory.
As Belgium’s gas prices set record after record France is also seeing unusually high electricity prices during the height of summer.
Laveyne told VRT: “Prices rose to €1 200 and even to €2 200 per megawatt-hour (MWh) for variable electricity.” In Belgium – and in Germany – it is not so bad: the prices are between €500 and €600 per MWh. By comparison before the energy crisis a normal price was around €40 per MWh.”
In a tweet on the 17th of August she wrote:
““This is wild. One country will pay €1 230/MWh and €2 239/MWh this winter for baseload and peakload electricity respectively. The other €603 and €767. One country is France the other Germany. No not the other way round.”
While household electricity costs are rising in France they are not exploding like they are in a number of other European nations because 75 percent of residential consumers have regulated tariffs with maximum rates. Thus their bill might increase by twofold but not by a factor of ten or twenty.
This is so that the additional expenses can be covered by the government-owned electric utility firm EDF which generates the electricity. These cost anywhere from €8 to €15 billion which naturally will be mentioned in the tax notification. In my opinion this also mirrors our local context.
According to Laveyne more than half of France’s nuclear power plants which normally provide more than 70% of the country’s electricity are currently not in operation because there is some maintenance going on in part to potential safety concerns and in part because the water levels in the rivers where these plants are located are too low to adequately cool the reactors.
France has historically been one of Europe’s largest net exporters of power but that position is no longer valid as the country’s yearly nuclear output is on track to have its worst year in more than three decades. According to data from grid operator RTE as of Friday the availability at EDF’s reactors is as low as 42%.
Although there is now a great deal of uncertainty she said that EDF is doing everything possible to get as many power plants back on by the winter but there is a good likelihood that there will be an electricity deficit.
Therefore she concluded that shutdowns in the economy are almost certain and that businesses will temporarily shut down because electricity will become pricey. The government will be forced to use controlled blackouts such as turning off the lights for an hour in some areas to conserve energy.
According to Yahoo Finance French electricity price has exceeded €1000 for the first time. Well this is not a price increase but a brick wall.
“The French market is going to be extremely tight this winter especially if we have low wind conditions ” said Kathryn Porter energy consultant at Watt-Logic. “Everyone in Europe could be trying to import power at the same time and that could create huge challenges and rationing of industrial use.”
It also reported that with all this in sight it is clear that industries may be forced to close down or reduce back operations as a result of the high cost of electricity. Some may never restart.
According to Kesavarthiniy Savarimuthu an analyst at researcher BloombergNEF in London “Companies are halting production as they struggle to keep up with the surging cost.”
“Inflationary pressure on end users will continue rising as more people working in the industrial sector start to get laid off.”
No wonder the cover of the new issue of the French satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo” shows Macron carrying firewood to the Élysée Palace stating: “Premier Arriveˊ Premier Servi!” [The first to come the first to be served” and adding:
“Cet hiver ce sera chacun pour sa gueule”” meaning “This winter everyone will be for himself!”