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France starts the year by becoming an electricity exporter again, according to RTE


The increase in nuclear production, mild winters and favorable winds for wind power production allow France to sell energy to its European neighbours.

For the first time in months, France became a net electricity exporter again at the turn of 2023, thanks to a mild winter, good wind production and EDF's efforts to reconnect reactors nuclear.

“Since January 1, the net balance of electricity exports has amounted to 1.4 terawatt hours

(TWh),” the manager of the high and very high voltage network, RTE, told AFP on Tuesday.

This balance is equivalent to the power consumed over one year by 450,000 households.

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of nuclear production, the mild winter which avoids pushing the heating and favorable winds for wind production mean that France is starting to export more electricity to its European neighbors than it imports, at the less temporarily.

"We have the impression that we have changed the world

," summarized Nicolas Goldberg, energy expert at Colombus Consulting, with AFP.

Read alsoBelgium extends two nuclear power plants by ten years

“Extremely low consumption, wind turbines which produce at full capacity and nuclear power which produces within the average forecast by RTE, all this means that we are a net exporter of electricity and that no one is talking about power cuts anymore

, explains- he.

At a time when parliamentarians are examining a bill to accelerate the development of renewable energies and catch up with a glaring delay compared to European neighbors,

“wind energy also shows that it provides a small service in winter”

, notes Nicolas Goldberg.

Net exports from Christmas

Sign of a relaxation on the electrical system, EDF even stopped up to ten reactors

“just before Christmas”

to save fuel and optimize its production.

"The mild temperatures, above seasonal normals, and the lower consumption during this period mean that the network does not need all the reactors available,"

the group reported on Thursday.

In detail, France returned, according to RTE, with net exports from the first week of the Christmas holidays, which is the complete opposite of the trend observed in 2022. With historically low nuclear production estimated in a range of 275- 285 TWh in 2022, France had been a net importer of electricity for almost the whole year (except February, May and from the end of December), which had not happened for 42 years.

Historically the leading electricity exporting country in Europe, France had to import it from Spain, Germany or the United Kingdom to compensate for its lack of production and avoid cuts.

Read alsoEDF: a nuclear reactor shut down due to “mild temperatures”

Last year, France was faced with an unprecedented lack of availability of the nuclear fleet due to scheduled, but prolonged, maintenance on reactors and the discovery at the end of 2021 of corrosion problems on portions of piping crucial for safety. power plants, requiring lengthy repairs.

France could hardly rely either on its hydraulic stocks (dams), which suffered from the drought, even if they have since been partially replenished this autumn.

Under pressure from the government, EDF has worked hard to put 14 reactors back into service since November 1.


The engineers, workers and employees of EDF have just restored today

(on the network)

the 45 gigawatts that they had promised for mid-January

" (out of a total installed capacity of 61.4 GW ), welcomed Tuesday the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire, in front of the deputies.

A nuclear fleet with 73.7% availability

With 44 reactors reconnected out of 56, the nuclear fleet showed an availability of 73.7% on Monday, a level more reached since February 11, 2022 (74.8%), according to EDF figures analyzed by AFP.

The availability of the nuclear fleet should however

“decrease again from February”

2023, noted RTE in its last analysis at the end of December, while six reactors will have to be shut down in 2023 for corrosion sites.

"You can be enthusiastic, but you have to be careful

," says Nicolas Goldberg.

Because winter is always under heightened vigilance.

“All this can turn around quite quickly, if in February there is little wind and a cold snap”

, warns the analyst.

In this hypothesis, France will have to draw on its gas stocks to produce electricity and would approach the winter of 2023-2024 with less margin, in the absence or almost of Russian gas transported by gas pipelines.

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2023-01-10

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