“We approach the coming weeks with confidence, with the passage of winter,” said Luc Rémont, whose priority, set by the executive, is to pilot the revival of nuclear electricity production in France.
EDF is “totally mobilized to face the challenges of the short term as well as the medium term”, underlined the new boss of the group, during a visit to the site of the nuclear power plant of Penly, in Normandy, alongside the Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maire, who came to deliver a resolutely pro-nuclear message. “We have a major asset in the French economy, it is nuclear power, it is a question of strengthening it”, hammered the minister to the press, recalling the objective of entry into service in 2035 of the first of the six second-generation EPRs that the executive wants to build. “If it’s 2034, it’s better! “, he launched. “My conviction is that France will be the leader and that many countries that had given up on nuclear power will reconsider their options,” he said, referring to Germany.
Sixteen reactors remain shut down out of 56
Dressed in the navy blue and orange vest of EDF employees, Luc Rémont spoke publicly for the first time since taking office on November 23, in front of dozens of employees. The leading electricity producer in Europe, EDF is in the process of being 100% renationalised by the State.
A recovery that worries internally. “Hercules is abandoned, let’s be clear,” however declared the minister, referring to this plan to separate the group’s activities into three entities: nuclear, hydroelectric and renewable energies, fought by the unions.
In the immediate future, sixteen reactors remain shut down out of 56 for scheduled or extended maintenance and corrosion problems that have required long repairs. The oldest of these reactors will celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2030.
The restarts are accelerating, however, with three reactors reconnected just overnight from Thursday to Friday, and a regained power of 40 gigawatts (GW) which should be enough to overcome the cold snap expected these days, according to the RTE network manager.
“EDF is sticking to its schedule and we are on the right track,” assured the minister. “Let’s stop saying it’s a disaster, it’s not true,” he exclaimed.
The French, who benefited from cheap and abundant electricity thanks to nuclear power, are now facing soaring energy prices, even tempered by price shields. They also have to deal with the electricity shortage symbolized by the Ecowatt application and its orange or red alerts which will encourage them to limit their consumption.
EDF now estimates a drop in consumption of around 10% in November compared to the same month of 2021.
For Monday, the date on which the RTE network manager expects a consumption peak of 81.5 GW, Ecowatt remains green even if a hazard is still possible during the weekend, indicates the network manager.
For the whole of next week, RTE is counting on a mercury drop of 5 to 6 degrees compared to the “reference temperatures”, synonymous with high consumption.
France will therefore have to import. Part of its imports will come from Germany, where only three nuclear power plants remain in service since this country gave up this energy in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster in 2011. 44% of this German electricity came from renewable energies in the third quarter versus 36% from coal.
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