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France relights coal power plants to keep the lights on

Europe1 News

Since September, France has relighted four coal-fired power plants to offset the shutdown of the Fessenheim nuclear power plant and the lack of wind.

The French government has compensated EDF with 377 million euros when it forces it to close the Fessenheim nuclear power plant. Now France has to restart coal plants to compensate for the loss in electricity. An absurd situation because everyone loses in this story.

This is the epilogue of a long story: the government will pay 377 million euros to compensate EDF for the closure of the two reactors at the Fessenheim nuclear power plant. The National Assembly will debate an amending government budget on Tuesday, including compensation for EDF for the forced closure of Fessenheim.

Since September, France has relighted four coal-fired power stations with high CO2 emissions to partially offset the shutdown at Fessenheim and the lack of wind for the wind turbines. Since September EDF has also had to occasionally import gas and coal-generated electricity from Germany at a very high cost.

Everyone loses

EDF loses because the compensation paid to it is comparatively low given that the Fessenheim reactors could still have been running until 2041 and that its power plants were both amortised and in perfect working order.

The government’s budget, and therefore the taxpayer, obviously loses too and at a time, in the midst of a crisis, when we would do better to use this millions elsewhere.

Our foreign trade is losing because we import coal and gas that we could have avoided burning in our power stations.

And the planet is losing because we emit more CO2. All this for purely political, ideological reasons. And this absurd situation is not about to end since France’s multi-year energy law demands the closure of 14 other nuclear reactors in coming years, 14 reactors that are amortised and in working order.

These nuclear reactors would have been even more useful in the future due to the growth of renewable energy – because the more renewables there are, the more we need reliable production of electricity which does not depend on weather conditions, on intermittent wind or sun.

Full story (in French)