The cold and the nuclear break shoot electricity in France up to almost 3,000 euros per MWh early on Monday | Economy

France will break all electricity price records this Monday. the wholesale market will be close to 3,000 euros per megawatt hour (MWh) in two time slots —between seven and eight in the morning and between eight and nine—, a threshold for which there are no precedents. With almost half of the nuclear reactors stopped and an unexpected cold wave at this time of year, the manager of the French electricity network (Réseau de Transport d’Electricité, RTE) has issued an orange alert calling on citizens and companies to reduce consumption as much as possible, especially first thing in the morning.

The second largest electrical system in Europe, only behind the German, will go through one of the most critical moments in its recent history this Monday. The network, admits RTE, is in a “tense situation”. “The eco-gestures of citizens are welcome,” reads a statement published this Saturday. The average daily price of electricity will skyrocket to 551 euros per MWh, almost 200 more than in Italy, twice as much as in Spain and seven times more than in Germany. French consumers, however, will not notice it in the short term: no matter what happens, the Government of Emmanuel Macron – who goes to the polls next Sunday – has promised that electricity will not become more expensive by more than 4 % in 2022. Public-private power company Électricité de France (EDF) is absorbing much of that gap between the wholesale and retail markets.

3,000 MW of cushion

At nine o’clock on Monday morning, the French authorities estimate that consumption will be around 73,000 megawatts (MW). Generation, for its part, will remain around 65,000 MW and imports will reach 11,000 MW. In this way, the buffer between supply and demand would be only 3,000 MW.

Despite ruling out supply cuts, the electricity manager has asked that demand be “moderated” between seven and ten in the morning, as well as bringing forward programmable consumption (such as putting on the washing machine or dishwasher) to Sunday. “Everyone can help with simple actions: lowering the temperature of your house when you are not there, completely turning off your devices in stand-by or reducing the number of lights on in a room”, he exemplifies. “These gestures can have a real impact: if all French people turn off a light bulb, 600 MW would be saved, approximately the consumption of a city like Toulouse [la cuarta urbe más poblada del país, con casi medio millón de habitantes]”.

The greater demand pressure due to the expected low temperatures, much lower than usual for April 4, will temporarily coincide with a factor that has been stressing supply for weeks: the maintenance of a large part of the largest nuclear park in the Old Continent —almost half of its 56 nuclear reactors are out of service—. This concatenation of factors will force France to increase the import of electricity from other neighboring countries, such as Germany, Spain or the United Kingdom.

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