BREAKING NEWS: France aims to increase exchange of gas, power flows with neighbours, reactivate nuclear units

Andrea Battaglia


LONDON (ICIS)–The French government is looking into reinforcing energy solidarity with European neighbours, particularly Spain and Germany, ahead winter, while it also stressed the importance of reactivating the country’s nuclear reactors currently under maintenance.

The French government held an emergency defence and security council focused on energy supply security ahead of the winter season on Friday.

“The council particularly examined France’s solidarity with Germany and Spain.This reciprocal solidarity should be reinforced by this winter” French energy transition ministry Agnes-Pannier Runacher said in a press conference.

The French government indicated that exchange of gas and power between France and these two countries will therefore be strengthened this winter.


According to Pannier-Runacher, French nuclear operator EDF has committed to restart all the reactors currently under planned maintenance for this winter “and we are extremely vigilant to make sure the timetable is respected”.

According to the French minister, starting from October, several nuclear reactors should return online every week in accordance to the operator’s timetable.

32 nuclear reactors are currently under maintenance according to the French minister.

“The minister’s comments are frankly rather bemusing, considering they come just one week after EDF said that its annual nuclear production would “probably” reach the bottom of its 280-300TWh target. Our analysis at the time indicated that for output to drop that far from the current schedule, the seven outages at corrosion reactors scheduled to end in 2022 would basically have to be extended into 2023” ICIS power analyst, William Peck said.

“Nevertheless, were these reactors to return on schedule, it would be highly bearish for winter French power, with spillover to longer-dated contracts, neighbouring markets, and European coal, gas, and carbon prices. The first of this group of reactors is not scheduled to return until early November, but traders will be eagerly looking for indications from EDF, ASN and the French government in the interim”.

September’s nuclear capacity is set to average at 47.5% of availability out of the total installed capacity of the French nuclear fleet, expected to rise to 71.5% in Q4, RTE data shows.

The daily forecast for French nuclear availability shows that fourth quarter availability is estimated to average at 43.9GW, which is 0.6GW below the 2017-2021 average.


“Our LNG terminals are working at full speed and our stocks are already 92% full” Agnes Pannier Runacher said, indicating that France has already achieved its refill target months in advance.

France has also diversified its gas supplies amid constraints on Russian gas flows, the French politician noted.

“Thanks to our energy solidarity our European neighbours have also been able to refill their storage capacity,” Runacher said.


The success of the energy sobriety plan will allow France to avoid more restrictive measures this winter thanks to the cooperation among several sectors, Runacher said.

Nevertheless, the plan which aims at curbing French gas and power consumption by 10% by 2024 will not require French industries to curb their production output, the French minister added.


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