France Restarts Nuclear Reactors, Eases Blackout Fears

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and RTE grid system executive Thomas Veyrenc on Wednesday assured citizens that the country will avoid power cuts this winter, with Le Maire announcing they are on track to get 45 nuclear reactors on line by January, up from the current number of 41.

France Restarts Nuclear Reactors, Eases Blackout Fears
Image credit: Shutterstock [via The Wall Street Journal]

Facts

  • French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and RTE grid system executive Thomas Veyrenc on Wednesday assured citizens that the country will avoid power cuts this winter, with Le Maire announcing they are on track to get 45 nuclear reactors on line by January, up from the current number of 41.
  • Earlier this year, corrosion on pipes near some reactor cores led authorities to take 30 of the nation's 56 reactors offline. France has reopened five reactors since last week, bringing its total nuclear energy output to over 41K megawatts — just above the 40K threshold needed to avoid power cuts.
  • Normally a net energy exporter to Europe, France became a major importer of energy this year while its reactors were shut down and the continent faced sweeping cold spells. Veyrenc has said that he doesn't expect France to be an importer next year.
  • Wednesday's news came as France continues to be on the alert for possible rolling blackouts. As recently as Monday it had to cut around half its exports to the UK for an hour, and import power from Belgium and Italy as the country faced freezing cold temperatures.
  • At a hearing in the French Senate, Veyrenc said that while the situation remained a matter of "high vigilance," power cuts could be avoided by encouraging people to cut back on energy usage. CEO of power giant EDF, Luc Remont, added that he wanted to ramp up production to 45GW next month, above the 41-42GW expected in January.
  • With Europe's natural gas stocks nearly full, the shortages at EDF — the world's largest nuclear power plant operator — mean France's nuclear issues have become the continent's most acute energy supply problem. EDF has also said it plans to inspect all 56 of France's reactors through 2025.

Sources: Reuters, Wall Street Journal, and Trading View.

Narratives

  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Breitbart. In contrast to countries like Germany, which are overdependent on traditional and environmentally harmful energy sources, France's dozens of nuclear power plants have and will continue to help it get through the winter despite gas supply stoppages from Russia. Germany's over reliance on Russia led to it being forced to stock up on gas from elsewhere. Meanwhile, France was able to kick its domestic nuclear production into gear when the population needed it most.
  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by Reuters. France faced a potential grid collapse and subsequent rolling blackouts specifically because of its nuclear power plant dependancy. If it weren't for the mild climate of November, the French people could very well have faced catastrophic energy shortages.

Predictions