Russia 'took advantage' of Europe's energy issues says expert
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While Paris is usually a major exporter of power, lately it is been boosting electricity imports and even burning fuel oil to “keep the lights on” in the country. This energy crunch comes after EDF Energy was forced to shut down two nuclear power plants over safety fears.
The state-owned energy provider found faults on pipes in a safety system at its Civaux nuclear power station.
It said it would also shut down another plant because it used the same kind of reactors.
The issue was detected close to the welds on the pipes of the safety injection-system circuit in the two reactors in Western France.
The four shut down reactors accounted for 10 percent of the nation’s nuclear capacity, even as straining power grids already coping with cold weather.
This forced France to fire up a total of six oil-fired units on Tuesday morning, according to a filing with Entsoe.
Javier Blas, Bloomberg’s chief Energy Correspondent, wrote on Twitter: “France is resorting to fuel oil to keep the lights on this morning.”
Fuel oil is an extremely low-quality fossil fuel used commonly in the shipping industry.
It is extremely harmful to humans when burned and has been blamed for thousands of deaths relating to air pollution.
In 2015, shipping air pollution was responsible for the deaths estimated 20,520 people in China, 4,019 people in Japan, and 3,192 people in the UK.
Fabian Ronnigen, an analyst at Rystad Energy said: “It’s illustrating how severe it is when they’re actually starting to burn fuel oil and importing from all these countries.”
“All the unexpected maintenance is also causing the extremely high cost of supply, which is reflected in the market prices.”
This news comes as the EU’s energy crisis deepens as across the continent, prices per megawatt-hour (MWh) now exceed €300 (£256) in most countries.
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With the exception of Poland and Scandinavia, all countries in Europe have broken the €300 MWh barrier with France and Switzerland nearly at €400 (£341.60).
Head of Analytics at research firm Enappsys Andre Bosschaart said he’d “never seen this kind of volatility and high prices”.
The energy crisis is so severe that the French government has asked EDF to resume some of the shut down nuclear reactors earlier than planned.
For the second day in a row, French and German day-ahead power costs settled above Eur400/MWh, according to Epex Spot data.
The setback comes as France plans a major nuclear power station building programme.
The extended outage will be a nightmare for President Emmanuel Macron as Frances pushes for nuclear energy to be included in an EU-wide list of favoured green and sustainable investments.
It will place more pressure on France’s nuclear-reliant power network after grid operator RTE warned that cold weather over the winter could strain tight winter supply margins.
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