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Faced with nuclear shortages, EDF asked to unleash dams and wind turbines

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The nuclear crisis, episode of November 4, 2022. The French government has asked EDF, and more broadly other energy companies, to take measures to unleash dams and wind farms in order to facilitate the country’s electricity supply this winter, after the announcement of prolonged unavailability of certain nuclear reactors.

In a letter to the CEO of EDF dated Friday, the Minister for Energy Transition Agnès Pannier-Runacher asks him “to do everything possible to create new room for maneuver for the passage of winter”, which “passes , in particular, by maximizing the company’s renewable production”. This means increasing the power of hydroelectric concessions “in advance”, she writes.

A tax that must disappear

The increased use of dams has hitherto been limited in particular by the existence of a fee applicable to operators in the event of an increase in power. But this tax must disappear thanks to the new finance law.

It is also “the maximization of renewable production of wind origin, which requires for EDF a site-by-site expertise of the possibilities of unclamping, in connection with the decentralized services of the State, which have the instruction to instruct the possible priority requests,” adds the letter addressed to Jean-Bernard Lévy. This request concerns, in addition to EDF, all the operators, it was specified to the ministry.

The clamping of the wind turbines is configured in advance, according to their exposure, the wind thresholds… in order also to limit certain impacts, sound in particular. The unlocking and its terms will be decided site by site, each park having its own characteristics.

EDF asked to accelerate on renewables

The effort “finally goes through the acceleration of the renewable projects under construction carried by EDF”, adds the minister, inviting him to “report all the possible difficulties in these projects”.

For EDF, this letter “is part of a continuity of exchanges” with the government in view of the winter, and the question of increasing renewable production “was already under investigation”, without the ‘we can still at this stage assess the volume of additional electricity hoped for there. “We will provide an answer as soon as possible”, adds the group.

To date, 26 nuclear reactors are shut down, for maintenance but also corrosion problems, out of a fleet of 56. The national electrician announced Thursday a new postponement of the date of reconnection of four of them, and revised downwards its estimate of nuclear production for 2022, in an already tight electricity and gas supply context.

On the renewable front, the government is also counting on the entry into full service of the very first offshore wind farm in France, opposite Saint-Nazaire. In addition, “the work relating to the reliability of our electricity import capacity, particularly from Germany, should find a favorable outcome very soon”, adds Agnès Pannier-Runacher in her letter.

Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz agreed in early September for France to deliver more gas to Germany, which in return could supply electricity to its neighbor if necessary.

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