France may block energy exports to UK as Macron’s ‘ancient’ nuclear plants rust up. Source: EXPRESS. Daily Briefing

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France may block energy exports to UK as Macron’s ‘ancient’ nuclear plants rust up

Power giant EDF will slash output following delays in vital repairs to its fleet of nuclear reactors.

By Harvey Jones

08:46, Sat, Nov 5, 2022 | UPDATED: 16:08, Sat, Nov 5, 2022

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The French may block electricity exports to the UK this winter as a result, causing a fresh energy supply crunch on these shores. It’s a frightening prospect as winter looms.

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  • Britain is now more likely to face blackouts and power shortages because it cannot longer rely on energy imports from France.

French utility EDF has warned of plunging energy output this winter.

It has been forced to slash electricity generation at its nuclear power plants at the worst possible time.

The utility’s ageing reactors are now rusting away, and cannot produce the expected amount of electricity.

A string of nuclear reactors have been affected by corrosion and will have to go offline as workers battle to repair the damage and make them safe.

The process has been delayed by union-backed strikes among militant French workers. This is slashing electricity generation from its fleet of nuclear plants, by delaying vital maintenance work.

It’s bad news for the UK which relies on gas and electricity imports from a host of countries to keep the lights on.

While Norway, often described as the “world’s best country”, is proving itself a reliable source of power, France is not doing as well.

French-nuclear-plants-EDF

French nuclear plants owned by EDF are corroding and the UK could pay the price (Image: Getty)

  • EDF, which also operates in the UK, has now lowered its nuclear output target for 2022 from a range of 280-300 terawatthours (TWh) to 275-285 TWh.

Even before this latest cut, French nuclear output was expected to hit a 30-year low.

French President Emmanuel Macron has plans to build up to eight new reactors as existing ones fail.

Now energy experts say our nearest neighbour is likely to block electricity exports to the UK when colder weather strikes.

It won’t be producing enough for its own people. So Britons will go cold instead, a leading energy expert has warned Express.co.uk.

France normally exports electricity right across Europe, including to the UK, said Chris Eales, editor France for Europe’s leading energy newswire Montel News.

But instead of exporting power, it will now be desperately hunting around for imports. “France is now relying on its neighbours to help keep its lights on,” Eales added.

That ups the pressure on the UK, too.

READ MORE: British Gas shares ‘simple things’ to save £466 on energy bills

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Rusty French reactors will worsen the UK’s winter energy worries, and could trigger a supply crunch.

Eales said corrosion issues at its “ancient” plants are affecting at least 15 of EDF’s nuclear units, and the total number could be even higher.

“Given huge problems with its reactor fleet, mostly, it is unlikely that EDF or France will come to the aid of struggling UK households.

“Or anyone else, for that matter,” he added.

During a normal winter, the UK relies on imports from France to meet demand, particularly during the peak hours of 5pm to 8pm.

By contrast, French power demand generally peaks between 8am and 1pm, freeing them to export the surplus in normal years, Montel reports.

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Winter-energy-supply-crunch

Winter energy shortages could now worsen winter supply crunch (Image: Getty)

EDF has cut its output forecasts several times this year, and also said it expects a negative hit to its earnings of €32billion (£28bn) because of the decline.

The utility has also extended unplanned outage extensions due to corrosion repairs or probes at four of its reactors: Cattenom 1 and 3, Chooz B1 and Penly 2.

It said the Chooz delay was due to “an extension of the scope of corrosion repairs and additional inspections”. The work includes replacing parts of the piping.

The power giant has also said that checks and repairs right across EDF’s 56 reactor fleet would last until 2025.

That should increase the pressure on UK households and drive up the cost of the governments Energy Price Guarantee, which limits bills to an average of £2,500 for the average household.

Our situation could get even worse as fears grow that Russian President Vladimir Putin may sabotage Norway’s gas pipelines to spread energy horror.

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