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France More Confident About Power Supply In The Coming Weeks

France is now more confident about its power supply for the coming weeks compared to a month ago, thanks to reduced consumption and increased nuclear power generation, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne told local Franceinfo radio on Tuesday.

“I am more confident over the coming weeks,” France’s PM told the radio when asked about the country’s energy supply.  

For most of the past year, low nuclear power availability has been an issue for the French power system, as half of the country’s reactors were offline at one point in the autumn due to repairs or maintenance.

Last month, Xavier Piechaczyk, the head of grid operator RTE, said that France could face the risk of power cuts this winter when the electricity supply may not be enough to meet demand.

“We are in this tense situation because the French nuclear fleet is not at full capacity,” Piechaczyk said, adding that France is also paying the price of the slow deployment of renewable energy.

In November, RTE said that the French electricity grid is at higher risk of strained power supplies in January 2023 than previously estimated due to lower nuclear power generation. 

Delays in routine maintenance work at France’s nuclear power stations will lead to a slightly lower nuclear availability this winter than expected back in September, the grid operator said. This raises the risk of a power supply crunch in January, RTE said in its latest winter preparedness analysis in November.

In mid-December, energy giant EDF dampened hopes of more reactors joining the operating fleet soon as it delayed the restart of some reactors from early 2023 to June 2023. 

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However, electricity savings in recent weeks have made France more optimistic about its power supply at the beginning of this year. Per RTE data cited by Reuters, France’s electricity demand was down by 8.7% in the last four weeks of 2022 compared to the average for the same period between 2014 and 2019.      

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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