French President Emmanuel Macron has successfully crippled France’s energy sector to the point France will need to ration electricity and shut off city streetlights for months.
Indeed, Macron is pleading with the public and private sectors to engage in energy “sobriety” and reduce their consumption, adding that he’s expecting Russia to completely cut off gas to the country thanks to sanctions that the EU has imposed on behalf of Ukraine.
“From now on, I will ask public bodies and all companies that can to consume less. We will create a program and try to use lighting less in the evenings. We are launching a load reduction and sobriety program,” Macron said.
“We have to prepare for a scenario in which we have to give up Russian gas completely.”
This news comes in the wake of major uncertainty regarding France’s nuclear infrastructure, which has been taken offline several times throughout 2022.
In April, fully half (28 of 56) of France’s nuclear reactors were shut down, supposedly for maintenance or other defects, including corrosion.
These reactors have remained shut down well into June. As the reactors normally generate approximately 70% of France’s power —the largest proportion of nuclear reliance of any country in the world — a sustained shut down of half of the nuclear reactors has already wreaked havoc on France’s energy stability.
According to Yves Marignac, a nuclear energy specialist at négaWatt, problems in the energy sector should have been addressed pre-emptively, as most of the reactors were built in the 1980s and fresh investment to build new reactors and update old ones was long overdue.
“[Électricité de France’s] strategy, endorsed by the government, was to delay the reinvestment and transformation of the system,” said Marignac. “The more EDF delays, the more skills keep getting lost, technical problems accumulate, and there is a snowball effect.”
In response to the reactor shutdowns, France did the only thing it could do: return to a greater reliance on fossil fuels. However, with Russia expected to pull the plug on gas supplies, France is now in the precarious position of finding new oil and gas supplies, buying out the EDF, and repairing its nuclear infrastructure.
Just a month ago, French politicians had the luxury of declaring ‘heatwave lockdowns.’ Now, they’re scrambling to fix things before the winter, with the President warning citizens that things will get rough.
“We must all prepare for the fact that the war will last. The summer and the beginning of autumn will probably be very tough,” said Macron.