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18 Dec, 2021 11:52

Europe’s energy crisis just got worse

Europe’s energy crisis just got worse

On top of an ongoing natural gas crunch, Europe faces the winter season with reduced nuclear output in France, exacerbating the energy crisis and leaving large parts of the continent praying for a milder winter.

France’s EDF stopped on Thursday two nuclear power plants after finding a fault at one during routine maintenance. This brings the total number of nuclear plants out of operation currently at four, which account for 13% of the current power availability in France, a major electricity exporter to neighboring countries and to the UK.

Nuclear power generates most of France’s electricity. France gets more than 70% of its total electricity from nuclear power generation and is a major exporter of electricity, including to the UK.

The outage at the French nuclear plants comes just as temperatures in Europe started to fall and amid the ongoing natural gas crunch with gas in storage sites at the lowest levels in a decade.

Without part of the French electricity exports, some countries in northwest Europe could see their own power supply constrained.

If winter weather is colder than usual, this would mean no relief in the skyrocketing power prices and energy bills for consumers. This could also raise the possibility of rolling blackouts, Bloomberg notes

“Now it would only take 2-3 degrees Celsius below the seasonal normal to get into trouble,” Emeric de Vigan, CEO of energy analysis firm COR-e, told Bloomberg.

Following the French halt to some of its nuclear plants, European power prices surged to record on Thursday.

The outages at the nuclear power plants in France come at the worst possible moment for Europe’s energy supply, considering that a cold winter could deplete its natural gas inventories and that the German network regulator which is reviewing the certification of the Russia-led Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline said on Thursday that it would not make a decision before July 2022.

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