The UK stands ready to come to the rescue of France as the countries look forward to closer cooperation on energy in emergencies amid a sharp drop in EDF’s power generation, which the expert says will benefit the UK going forward. The two countries are reportedly considering sharing power this winter after French grid operator RTE warned it needed “close cooperation” with other countries to keep power supplies running.
It comes after EDF reported that nuclear power production, which typically generates about 70 percent of France’s electricity, plummeted by nearly 40 percent in August from the same period last year, largely due to corrosion problems at the nation’s nuclear power plants. reactors.
This led to France becoming a net importer of electricity in the first half of 2022, despite the fact that it usually exports cheap nuclear energy to the UK through three cables that trade electricity across the English Channel.
Now it looks like the tide has changed and French President Emmanuel Macron may need Britain’s help to keep the lights on as electricity prices skyrocket in the winter.
Dr Geoff Hardy, Senior Fellow at the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, told Express.co.uk: “The UK is connected by high voltage cables to several European countries including France, Norway, Belgium and the Republic of Ireland. this is good because it diversifies our supply, increasing the sustainability of the power supply system.
“France is suffering from power outages at nuclear power plants, which has led to a limited electricity market in France. Historically, France has supplied the UK with cheap electricity from its nuclear fleet. Now she needs help, which is why interconnection is a good thing for European security.
“At the same time, the UK is rapidly ramping up renewable electricity generation, especially offshore wind. In the future, this means that the UK will become a net exporter of wind energy, especially on windy days when demand is low. This means that we will need more interconnects in the future, as there will be days when we need to turn off the power.”
This comes after National Grid said it hopes to benefit from imports from Europe. The July forecast indicated that the National Grid would need a lot of imported energy this winter, and it was assumed that the UK could rely on electricity from Europe, as in previous years.
In its annual review of winter power supplies, the organization said the UK would be able to use submarine cables that bring power from Europe, but warned of “busy” periods in early December even while receiving that support.
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However, some experts warn that dependence on imports from abroad could be a big gamble and could even lead to power outages as energy prices soar and supplies are cut by Vladimir Putin. There are fears that Putin might be tempted to cut off all remaining gas exports to Europe this winter.
Bob Seeley, a Conservative MP who sits on the powerful foreign affairs select committee, told the Telegraph in July: “There is likely to be an energy emergency in Europe, primarily caused by Germany’s catastrophic decisions; First, to shut down their nuclear power plants. calm its obsessive anti-nuclear green lobby and, secondly, become completely dependent on Russian gas.
“It now seems likely that Putin will further tighten energy supplies this winter in order to exert maximum political pressure on Germany and other EU countries using Russian gas, such as Italy and Hungary. He wants to undermine the coalition in support of Ukraine.”
But according to Dr. Hardy, the UK could be in a stronger position than Europe and could actually help by boosting renewable electricity production. He told Express.co.uk: “Emergency calls via interconnectors are common. For example, last summer the UK had to ask France to supply less electricity through interconnectors because our demand was too low (and France responded positively).
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“All countries have an interest in responding to emergency calls, as long as it does not jeopardize the security of supply to that country. So while the factors that have led to this emergency call are exceptional, if the UK can help, we must. We will definitely have cases in the future when we ourselves need help.”
A spokesman for the national grid operator said: “We have published a preliminary winter forecast review to help the industry prepare for this winter.
“In early autumn, we will publish a full winter forecast based on verifiable market data as well as extensive stakeholder engagement, including system operators in other countries, to make our analysis as robust as possible.”