Will there be electricity at Christmas? Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne will unveil this Wednesday the possible scenarios to deal with the peaks in energy consumption this winter but also with skyrocketing bills, at a time when France is facing its worst energy crisis since the decade of 1970.
Elisabeth Borne will address the country’s energy supply scenarios, based on the forecasts presented on the same day by the electricity and gas transport network operators (RTE and GRTgaz), as well as the future of the tariff shield that protects the French price increase until December 31.
A “contained” increase
The Prime Minister will give a press conference at 3:30 p.m., surrounded by the Ministers of Economy Bruno Le Maire and of Energy Transition Agnès Pannier-Runacher. The Government, which is preparing its budget project for 2023, has promised that the rise in gas and electricity prices will remain “contained” after the expiration of this shield.
In 2022, the government blocked the increase in electricity prices for individuals at 4% and froze gas prices at October 2021 levels. With the energy crisis, wholesale electricity prices in Europe have skyrocketed , sometimes exceeding 1,000 euros per megawatt/hour. compared to less than 50 euros before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, to the point where the European Union is now seriously considering market reform.
“France will not sink into darkness”
In the interconnected European market, the price of electricity is adjusted to the cost price of the last energy source mobilized to meet demand, often a gas-fired power plant. However, the price of gas has skyrocketed, as a result of the war in Ukraine and the depletion of flows by Russia, dragging with it the price of electricity.
In France, this crisis is accentuated by a drop in its nuclear electricity production, at its lowest point due to the stoppage of half of its reactors (28 of 56), due to maintenance or corrosion. Added to this is the collapse of hydraulic production, which suffered from the summer drought. What to fear scarcity? “No, France will not sink into darkness,” evacuates an industrial source contacted by AFP.
No “blackout” expected
At 10 a.m., RTE will display its vision of France’s energy security for the winter 2022/2023, and in particular the crucial period from October to March, according to various scenarios, from the most optimistic to the most pessimistic. All the voluntary saving efforts and eco-gestures that may be required of people, communities and companies to avoid overheating of the system will be discussed. For example, lowering consumption at key times, such as in the morning and at the end of the day, to reduce consumption “peaks”. The operator of the gas transport network GRTGaz will present its gas supply forecast scenario for winter in the early afternoon.
After having called on companies at the end of August to act to avoid “rationing”, at the dawn of autumn, the authorities are hammering out a message that is intended to be a little more reassuring about the ability of the network to withstand peaks in demand. and cold spells this winter, as long as everyone makes an effort to “sober up.” “There is no risk of a blackout, that is, of an episode that causes the entire energy system to collapse,” assured the Minister for the Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier.-Runacher, this Tuesday before the Economic Affairs Commission of the National Assembly .
“We have a series of levers” and as a “last resort” “a continuity plan is prepared in case of insufficient electricity supply, with measures such as load shedding”, the minister has developed. These power cuts, directed and organized in advance, are part of a panoply of measures aimed at avoiding blackouts, that is, widespread and uncontrolled blackouts.
The EU in an emergency
The global energy crisis has added to an already tense situation for the power grid in France. The security of supply had been placed under “vigilance” last year for the winters of 2021-2024, due in particular to the delay in the connection of the new generation EPR in Flamanville and in the development of renewable energies.
For her part, the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, also presents emergency measures this Wednesday during her “state of the EU speech”, an exercise inspired by US politics.
This annual political speech in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg will have as its guest of honor the Ukrainian first lady, Olena Zelenska, the head of the European executive announced Tuesday night on Twitter. “The courage of the Ukrainian people has touched and inspired the world,” added Ursula von der Leyen. The leader must, during this speech, deploy her proposals to stop the increase in energy prices after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, at a time when galloping inflation threatens the continent’s economy.
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