UK blackout fears grow as ‘no question’ France will slash energy exports to Britain. EXPRESS. Daily Briefing.

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UK blackout fears grow as ‘no question’ France will slash energy exports to Britain

France’s energy system will continue to come under stress as it has announced delays to the repairs of nuclear reactors that were brought offline in a move that has sent its power output plummeting.

By Jacob Paul

19:28, Mon, Dec 19, 2022 | UPDATED: 19:29, Mon, Dec 19, 2022

What are blackouts and why might they happen this winter?

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A nuclear expert has told Express.co.uk that the likelihood the UK will experience blackouts this winter has grown after France announced delays to the repairs of its ageing nuclear reactors. Paris has confirmed that maintenance halts at two of Electricite de France SA’s reactors will last for an extra four months and that it may have to carry out lengthy repairs at seven other reactors next year. 

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While it may appear as though this is only an issue for our European partners across the Channel, Dr Paul Dorfman, a nuclear expert from Sussex University, has warned that this could have bleak consequences for Britain. 

This is because the UK normally relies on receiving some nuclear power exports from France, which are sent to British shores via interconnectors. But over the last few months, France’s nuclear power output has plummeted as the nation makes repairs to its nuclear reactors which are ageing and are suffering from corrosion issues.

While EDF has returned a number of units to service over the last few weeks, Bloomberg reports that its ageing plants will run much lower than their optimal capacity this winter.

Dr Dorfman said this means there will be “no question” that France will have to hold back on their usual levels of energy exports to Britain. This could be a cause for concern as National Grid had already warned that if the UK fails to shore up enough energy imports this winter, it may have to roll out organised blackouts in the coldest winter months at peak times to balance the grid and avoid a total shutdown. 

Macron and Sunak

France may hold back on exporting energy to the UK, which could make blackouts more likely (Image: Getty )

Blackout

National Grid has drafted an emergency plan for organised blackouts (Image: Getty)

He told Express.co.uk: “The ongoing safety corrosion issues have a significant impact on France and its ability to export power. There is no question that France will choose to light up Paris, in extremeness, than to deliver power elsewhere – like to the UK for example. 

“We are at the beginning of winter. We don’t know where the Russian invasion of Ukraine will go. France’s housing stock is badly insulated and the French are only just coming to grips with the issue of energy. They don’t really understand where they are at with electricity and power.”

When asked whether these issues could make National Grid’s emergency plan, which the network operator has argued is an “unlikely worst-case scenario”, Dr Dorfman said that it would. 

He added: “France may have to roll out organised blackouts too…the nuclear fleet is very old and cracking up…France is now even importing power from Germany.” 

This marks a huge change from the usual situation. Under normal circumstances, France is a net exporter of energy. But France has been forced to import power to swerve its own blackouts amid the nuclear issue

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