French citizens have been asked by Europe’s largest electric transmission system operator, RTE (Electric Transmission Network), to reduce consumption to avoid a blackout due to cold weather.
Temperatures in recent days are in fact at least 4 degrees lower than seasonal averages. While consumption has stood at 87 gigawatts, more than one gigawatt below the what is forecast to create a blackout. However, the alert is worrying.
In fact, the alert was launched when consumption was expected to be only 88 gigawatts, a relatively low level for a winter day. It seems to be that it is more of a production problem than a consumption problem.
Due to the health crisis, network operator EDF has delayed the maintenance of its nuclear power plants and is unable to produce as before. Added to this, is the closure of the coal-fired plants and the two nuclear reactors at Fessenheim.
Not to mention that, as the wind was very weak on Friday, wind power was of no help. Last November, RTE had warned that the most risky period would be between February and March. EDF did its best to get as many of its reactors working between December and January, but the company plans to shut down several plants in February, when 13 reactors will be overhauled.