It is a very real possibility that France will see rolling power cuts this winter and will seek to import energy from Britain and other European neighbours to try and cope, the head of the nation’s public electricity company said on Thursday.
Amid continuing failures with the French nuclear reactor fleet, which is currently running at around half of capacity, the chairman of Réseau de Transport d’Électricité (RTE) Xavier Piechaczyk said that currently there will be at least a few days during the winter in which the red alert signalling potential cuts will be in effect.
Earlier this year, RTE alongside the Energy Management Agency (Ademe) introduced an SMS energy warning system for the public, with a colour-coded ‘Ecowatt’ system, with green indicating that all is fine, amber signalling growing issues, and red warning that there are power cuts coming.
In order to avoid the worst, the RTE chief said that France will begin looking to import energy from its neighbours, such as Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, and even the United Kingdom, many of which are realistically facing blackouts of their own.
Though France is typically a net energy exporter and is not as reliant on gas from Russia to the same extent as other major European economies like Germany, the nation’s nuclear power industry has been severely hampered by issues with corrosion forcing 20 of the 56 reactors to be shut down. This issue has been compounded by a series of labour strikes that have only served to delay the repairs further.