France to restart all nuclear reactors by winter amid energy crunch
France’s energy transition minister said on Friday that French electricity giant EDF has pledged to restart all its nuclear reactors this winter to help the country through the broad energy crisis exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.
Agnès Pannier-Runacher said the government is taking steps to “avoid restrictive measures” on energy consumption during the peak winter cold season, following a special government meeting on energy issues.
France depends on nuclear power for about 67% of its electricity – more than any other country – and about 7% on gas.
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Currently, 32 of France’s 56 nuclear reactors, all operated by EDF, have been shut down for normal maintenance and, in some cases, to repair corrosion problems.
“There is a schedule that stipulates that a new (nuclear) power plant is operational again every week from October,” says Pannier-Runacher.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne had warned that a worst-case scenario could lead to sustained two-hour blackouts in French homes this winter.
The government will “closely monitor” the situation of nuclear plants that have reported corrosion problems. EDF “has started taking measures and they need to confirm to us that things are going as planned,” said Pannier-Runacher.
France rolled out an “energy sobriety” plan in June, which aims to reduce energy consumption by 10% by 2024.
The move stems from fears that Russia would cut off its gas supplies and that liquefied natural gas imports would not be enough to meet Europe’s energy needs.
Pannier-Runacher said the country’s strategic gas reserves were 92% full.
In addition, electricity and gas trade with neighboring Spain and Germany will be strengthened this winter, she said.
State-controlled Russian energy company Gazprom stopped natural gas flow through a major pipeline from Russia to Europe this week, citing temporary scheduled maintenance.