Electricity: local cuts possible in the event of very cold this winter

The Minister for the Ecological Transition, Barbara Pompili, however, promises that there will be no blackout.

The French electricity network will hold out this winter. This is what Barbara Pompili, Minister for the Ecological Transition, promised on Thursday. “I want to reassure: there will be no blackout in France. It’s all very well managed“, She explained on the set of BFMTV.

The minister admits, however, that the situation holds as long as temperatures remain within the seasonal averages. But in the event of big cold spells, “régulationsWill have to be put in place. “We will work with the industry to stop its consumption at certain times. Afterwards, in the extreme, we can consider cuts but this will be circumscribed», She affirmed.

The manager of the high-voltage network, RTE, also warned about France’s electricity supply this winter during a press conference on Thursday. This supply must, according to him, be the subject of a “special vigilance», Especially in February in the event of extreme cold. The situation is that of a “December more serene than expected, a normally tense month of January during this statistically coldest period of the year, and finally a difficult month of February», Detailed the president of RTE, Xavier Piechaczyk.

Maintenance problem

The concern about the electricity grid stems, according to Barbara Pompili, from the fact that there is “lots of electric heating in winter“And that this requires”maximize» la production. Or, «Usually, in the spring and summer, the plants are shut down to do maintenance. But we couldn’t do it this time because of the confinement. We have a problem with that», She explained. “We are vigilant in February and March because we are postponing maintenance operations but at some point they will have to be done. We can’t drag this out too long».

According to RTE, France will have more reactors shut down than usual in February. “In February, given the reduction in the production fleet, the risk is increased compared to previous years», Insiste Xavier Piechaczyk. «What would pose a problem would be a lasting cold spell, particularly intense, or a cold wave combined with other unfavorable factors such as no wind.“, he added.

The continuity of supply is not secure ”

At the beginning of November, the central Social and Economic Committee (CSE) of EDF had already sounded the alarm. “The continuity of the electricity supply for the months of December 2020, January and February 2021 is not secure and will depend only on climatic conditions (…) It will be impossible in the event of a cold period (simply comparable to winters 2018 and 2012 ) to ensure the balance of the electricity networkHe warned.

The CSE pointed to the policy of reducing “controllable electricity production means“. In other words, the policy of reducing the share of nuclear in electricity production, which led to the closure of the two reactors of the nuclear power plant this year.

France is also committed to stopping its very polluting by 2022, even if the country has had recourse to it this year from September, due to a lower availability of the nuclear park but also of a high pressure reducing wind production. .

The limited effects of confinement

The November containment could help limit tensions. But its effects will in any case be less important than in spring. By this time, electricity consumption had fallen by as much as 20%, reflecting the sharp slowdown in economic activity. This time, the decrease in consumption was evaluated at 3% or even 4% by RTE.

For her part, the Minister of Ecological Transition is staying the course. She again denounced France’s dependence on nuclear power. “We have an electrical system that is too dependent on nuclear power. We have to diversify. Today, we are a little stuck», She regrets. The Minister also insists on “energy saving work»To be carried out, in particular on the.

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