France restarts all nuclear reactors by winter amid energy crisis
France’s energy transport minister said on Friday that French electricity giant EDF has committed to restarting all of its nuclear reactors by this winter to help the country weather a widespread energy crisis exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.
Agnes Pannier-Runacher said the government was taking steps to “avoid restrictive measures” on energy use at the height of the winter cold season, after a special government meeting on energy issues.
France relies on nuclear power for about 67% of its electricity – more than any other country – and on gas for about 7%.
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Currently, 32 of France’s 56 nuclear reactors, all operated by EDF, have been shut down for routine maintenance, and in some cases to fix corrosion problems.
“There is a timetable that states that starting in October, every week, a new (nuclear) plant is commissioned again,” said Pannier-Runacher.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Elizabeth Born warned that a worst-case scenario this winter could lead to a two-hour blackout in French homes.
The government will closely monitor the status of nuclear plants that have reported corrosion issues. “EDF has started taking action and has to assure us that it is progressing as planned,” said Pannier-Runacher.
France launched a “energy sobriety” plan in June, targeting a 10% reduction in energy use by 2024.
The measure comes amid concerns that Russia may cut off its gas supplies and that imports of liquefied natural gas will not be enough to meet Europe’s energy needs.
Pannier-Runacher said the country’s strategic gas reserves are 92% full.
In addition, electricity and gas trade with neighboring Spain and Germany will strengthen this winter, she said.
Russia’s state-controlled energy company Gazprom halted the flow of natural gas through a major pipeline from Russia to Europe this week, citing planned temporary maintenance.