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France was once Europe’s largest energy exporter, but today the European energy crisis may further increase its lag. A good example of this is that Electricite de France (EDF) was unable to fulfill its plan to restart a quarter of its nuclear power plants by mid-December. According to Bloomberg’s calculations, recent results do not look encouraging. RTE, which operates the network, warned on Friday that the deficit could increase in January.

The French state-run utility has asked for help from the United States and Canada to repair cracks at a dozen nuclear power plant units, but the schedule is already far behind expectations a few weeks ago. This means that France will have to face the winter without the energy source that forms the backbone of its energy system.

I know that EDF teams are extremely active, but we need to be prepared for all situations, including the possibility of targeted blackouts

said French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne in the parliament on Wednesday.

25 out of 56 reactors were not operating in France

Problems with nuclear power plants have left France, which typically relies on nuclear power for its energy supply, vulnerable. Its problems arose despite the fact that it is less exposed to Russian gas deliveries than Germany.

To mitigate economic damage and prevent social unrest, French President Emmanuel Macron’s government has earmarked at least 100 billion euros ($103 billion) to help businesses, consumers and authorities adjust electricity, natural gas and gasoline prices until next year. from rise.

Due to the shutdown of nuclear power in France, grid operators across Europe are on standby in case the European Union’s second largest economy needs extra energy.

EDF regularly failed to meet maintenance deadlines, and France had to prepare comprehensive plans to reduce gas and electricity consumption by 10 percent in two years. Among other measures, the internal temperature and lighting of buildings were reduced, from government offices to museums, but factories and supermarkets were also affected. Due to the threat of nuclear power shortages, the government is working on regulatory measures to increase the production upper limit of existing hydro and wind power plants. It is also negotiating an agreement with the Germans that would increase their import capacity.

this Friday, 25 of its 56 reactors were still not working, the output of EDF’s power plants is about 25 percent below the historical level.

Together, these push local electricity prices even higher than elsewhere in Europe. And slowly, there are signs that higher prices are destroying the demand side of the economy. Adjusted for weather effects, consumption fell 6.6 percent short of the pre-epidemic level in the four-week examined period that ended in mid-November.

(Cover photo: Imre Faludi / MTI)