France to restart all nuclear reactors by winter amid energy crunch

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France’s minister for energy transition said Friday that French electricity giant EDF has committed to restart all its nuclear reactors by this winter to help the country through the broad energy crisis aggravated by the war in Ukraine.

Agnès Pannier-Runacher said the government is taking steps to “avoid restrictive measures” over energy use in the peak winter cold season, following a special government meeting over energy issues.

France relies on nuclear energy for about 67% of its electricity – more than any other country – and on gas for about 7%.

>> Read more: France unveils nuclear power overhaul – with an eye on China

At the moment, 32 of France's 56 nuclear reactors, all operated by EDF, are shut down for usual maintenance and, in some cases, to repair corrosion problems.

“There’s a schedule that provides that starting from October, each week, a new (nuclear) plant is operational again,” Pannier-Runacher said.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne had warned that a worst-case scenario this winter could lead to rolling two-hour power cuts in French homes.

The government will “closely monitor” the situation of nuclear plants that reported corrosion issues. EDF “started taking action and they must confirm to us that it is progressing as they had planned,” Pannier-Runacher said.

France rolled out an “energy sobriety” plan in June, targeting a 10% reduction in energy use by 2024.

The measure comes amid fears that Russia may cut off its gas supplies and that imports of liquified natural gas would not be enough to meet Europe’s energy needs.

Pannier-Runacher said the country’s strategic gas reserves were 92% full.

In addition, electricity and gas trading with neighboring Spain and Germany will be strengthened this winter, she said.

Russia’s state-controlled energy company Gazprom stopped the flow of natural gas through a major pipeline from Russia to Europe this week, citing temporary planned maintenance.

(AP)