This is the watchword: energy saving. For several weeks, the government has been repeating this imperative, both to the businessmen gathered by Medef on August 29 and to French households, summoned to ” eco-gestures ».
A strategy that seems to bear fruit in view of the figures advanced this Friday by the general director of Engie, Catherine MacGregor. According to her, the consumption of gas by individuals in France has fallen ” about 4 to 5%” since the war in Ukraine. ” I am quite encouraged when I look at my private client base. Today, energy consumption has been reduced by 4-5%. (…) We are already seeing signs of demand where people are starting to pay attention, and that is very encouraging”, declared the owner of the first gas supplier in France, ex-GDF Suez, on the RTL radio antenna. However, he did not specify the exact comparison periods for this drop in consumption.
However, he called on the public authorities ” continue directing aid, in particular to our precarious clients”. The main device to prevent household bills from skyrocketing, the ” tariff shield » should end by the end of the year to make way for more targeted measures. “Work is in progress […] We are not going to expose the most modest French to reckless increases in energy prices. […] But we need to move from general mechanisms to more specific mechanisms”assured Elisabeth Borne last July.
Companies forced to stop production
Looking at business, Catherine Macgregor also noted a drop in demand, sometimes dictated by the need to safeguard the business: ” A certain part of this drop is because the industries are more careful and then we begin to see companies that are affected and that close their means of production, obviously it is a matter of concern “, he said, while some manufacturers, particularly in the energy-intensive glass sector, announced production stoppages. On Thursday, glassmaker Duralex announced it would put its furnace on hold for at least four months starting in November and place all of its employees on partial unemployment to save energy and preserve its finances. The Arc glass group was forced, for its part, to place part of its employees on partial unemployment.
During her speech at the Meeting of French Entrepreneurs (REF), the Prime Minister invited companies to quickly implement a sobriety plan. Because, if the power were to run out during the coming winter, rationing measures could see the light of day, she explained, ruling out any coercive measures for the time being. A decree published on April 8 allows the organization of gas dumping for the 5,000 sites that consume more than 5 gigawatt hours (GWh) of hydrocarbons per year to ensure the supply of sensitive sites (such as hospitals) as well as gas heating for private individuals. . It thus offers gas managers the possibility of reducing, or even stopping, gas consumption in the event of an imbalance in the gas network during the winter. However, this load shedding organization requires a preliminary investigation that consists of evaluating the impact that this could have for a company in terms of safety and economic consequences. Currently, gas network operators are conducting a survey to collect this information from customers and send it to the prefectures of the corresponding departments.
Inventories will soon be at 100%, but risks remain
Like the government, Catherine MacGregror wanted to be reassuring without ruling out the risk of power shortages this winter. ” Since the war in Ukraine, we, all players, have taken a number of very important steps to diversify our supplies, to make sure our import terminals work as well as possible, and of course to fill our storage as much as possible. . so today we are relatively calm about the gas situation in France”, assured. French gas stocks are 93% full, she said, saying she was very confident of reaching the 100% target by the start of winter. This objective, once reached, does not guarantee, however, a sufficient quantity to spend the winter serenely. In fact, this manna would allow France to last 14 weeks without receiving any gas supplies. Therefore, it is much less than the cold period. The country must continue to import the same amount of hydrocarbons every day. ” However, of course, we emphasized that the energy system in Europe and therefore in France was still under stress, and that we had to be careful.”as specified by the leader.
It also highlighted the risk to power generation: ” A priori we will not run out of gas, unless we need much more gas, because the climate is extremely cold and our production of electricity by means other than gas is weakened, in which case we will no longer use gas for electricity production. and we could have a more tense scenario”he stressed, insisting on the need to demonstrate “ sobriety ».
Electricity production in France is severely affected by the difficulties faced by EDF. Only 24 of the 56 reactors in EDF’s nuclear fleet are currently in service, the others are closed for scheduled maintenance operations or due to unforeseen corrosion problems. On Thursday, the head of government urged EDF to restore the situation. When asked about France Inter, he said: “I’m really counting on EDF to guarantee their restart schedule in the next few weeks, in the next few months, and that would save us from having to restart a coal power plant.”.
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