European Energy Crisis: France Close to Electricity Rationing Over Problems with Local Nuclear Plants

Employees walk past an temporary storage area of vitrified nuclear waste at the Orano la Hague reprocessing plant, in La Hague, northwestern France, on December 14, 2022. (Photo by Lou BENOIST / AFP) (Photo by LOU BENOIST/AFP via Getty Images)
LOU BENOIST/AFP via Getty Images

France is uncomfortably close to energy rationing as a result of issues it is having with some of its nuclear power plants, a report by The Times has claimed.

The UK newspaper has alleged that Emmanuel Macron’s France is currently coming close to having to ration energy due to a number of its nuclear power plants being taken offline over the last number of months.

If true, the news does not bode well for many countries in Europe that rely upon France for some of their electricity, with both the UK and Germany depending on the country for some of their power.

According to the report published on Sunday, the reduction in the number of nuclear power plants in operation in the country has put extreme strain on the country’s national power grid.

Warmer weather has since meant that, despite supply issues, energy rationing will likely not be needed, though the country’s power watchdog has warned that a sudden cold snap could change this.

“Until January 15, we know that we will have no difficulty,” The Times reports Emmanuelle Wargon, who serves as President of France’s Energy Regulation Commission, as saying.

“Afterwards, if there is a cold snap, the situation will inevitably be more tense,” she went on to say.

While the widespread availability of nuclear power has overall been a boon for France at a time when gas and oil have gotten rapidly more scarce in Europe, issues with various plants throughout the country have seen production fall to worryingly low levels in recent weeks.

With dangerous cracks being discovered in a number of major power stations, up to half of the country’s arsenal of nuclear facilities has been taken offline, dramatically reducing the amount of electricity the country can produce.

Although the state quickly deployed a veritable army of engineers to address the problems, temporary damage to production levels nevertheless forced it to pull back on supplying its European neighbours, with the country requesting last month to cut off the UK from French energy exports in the hopes of saving electricity.

Further problems could not come at a worse time for many on the continent, with Germany, in particular, being under extreme pressure to reduce its gas consumption by 20 per cent or more on last winter in the hopes of keeping its economy afloat.

Despite recent reports indicating that savings efforts are now going well after an extremely rocky early December, a sudden drop in electricity being supplied by France would likely require more gas to be burned, something that would no doubt dramatically bump domestic consumption.

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