Electric pylons in the countryside of Saint-Laurent-de-Terregatte, western France. © AFP – Daien Meyer
For the first time in months, France is a net exporter of electricity as a result of a mild winter, increased wind power production, and the re-starting of several nuclear reactors.
Despite the threat of power cuts due to the energy crisis, there have been no power outages in France this winter.
The re-opening of nuclear reactors, the mild winter and favourable winds mean that France is exporting more electricity to its European neighbours than it imports.
“We are consuming less because of the weather, but also because of energy sobriety and economic activity. We are at minus 8.5 percent, even at normal temperatures,” Thomas Veyrenc, of French energy regulator RTE, told franceinfo.
“Since 1 January, the net electricity export balance amounts to 1.4 terawatt hours”, adds RTE.
This is equivalent to the power consumed over one year by 450,000 households.
With nuclear production low, France has been a net importer of electricity for almost the whole year (except February, May and from the end of December), something that has not happened in 42 years.
Historically the leading electricity exporting country in Europe, France has had to import electricity from Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom to avoid power cuts.
Under pressure from the government, EDF has been working to bring 14 reactors back online since 1 November.
With 44 reactors reconnected out of 56, France’s nuclear power availability has hit 73.7 percent, a level not reached since February 2022, according to EDF figures.
However, the availability of the nuclear park should “decrease again from February”, noted RTE at the end of December, while six reactors will have to be stopped in 2023 for corrosion work.