France this week alerted its neighbours, particularly Britain and Spain, of power emergencies and asked them to prepare to supply as much electricity as possible after a major trade error threatened French supplies.
The unprecedented notice sparked energy concerns across Europe as the continent faces its biggest power crisis in decades as cuts to Russia’s gas supply drove costs.
As the foundation of its production system, France’s nuclear reactors are experiencing an unprecedented number of interruptions, putting enormous strain on the country’s power grid.
According to French grid operator RTE, neighboring countries were called in on Tuesday to prepare to export surplus power overnight. A representative from the Spanish electricity network and the British National Grid acknowledged that their nations had received the alarm.
The request stemmed from a commercial error made by a regional energy provider in France, who inadvertently sold a huge amount of electricity over the course of two days.
In a statement, Electricité de Strasbourg, an EDF-backed company that supplies electricity to the area around the eastern French city, said it was investigating a “failure”.
It said that in two separate transactions on September 6 and 7, it had accidentally sold 2.03 and 5.75 gigawatts (GW) of electricity. He later announced that the incident had cost him 60 million euros after re-adjusting his supply needs. The problem is classified as a computer phenomenon in the RTE files.
These types of requests for immediate help are rare. According to power companies and network executives, network operators typically send no more than a few messages in a year when they detect the possibility of a shortfall in supply demand.
However, if there is a shortage in the sector this winter, energy companies are concerned about potential delays in inter-European electricity and gas trade.
According to a person familiar with the situation, a French alert was received later in the day following rebalancing procedures, which revealed that the Electricité de Strasbourg was going to experience a power outage. The EDF chose not to respond.
Alerts are used to ensure that supplies can be mobilized from elsewhere and issued through the European Awareness System, which is used by network managers to exchange information. According to RTE, additional supplies did not turn out to be necessary in this week’s French case.
Energy providers regularly do business to balance supply and demand. However, the stakes are unusually high; One gigawatt is equal to the total power output of several nuclear reactors, or enough to run a small town for about a year.
Because of its dwindling nuclear supply, France was already dependent on its neighbors, particularly the UK, Germany and Spain, who have been net exporters of electricity via submarine cables.
However, Berlin and Madrid are at loggerheads with Paris over a new gas pipeline from Spain to France.
The Midcat gas pipeline is backed by Spanish government President Pedro Sánchez and German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, who confirm that it will help alleviate energy shortages outside the Iberian Peninsula.
According to French President Emmanuel Macron, the project is not necessary because the gas connection between France and Spain is not being fully exploited. He said a gas pipeline that would take years to build would not provide immediate relief from pressure and would instead increase Europe’s reliance on fossil fuels.
short term problem we are trying to solve [con esto] This is something I don’t understand, Macron commented.
The French government is increasing pressure on EDF, the company responsible for managing the country’s nuclear park, to end outages before winter, increased routine maintenance shutdowns after unforeseen corrosion problems in some reactors and production fell to a several-decade low. level declined.
EU energy ministers met in Brussels on Friday to discuss the gas price crisis, supporting a temporary cap on the cost of gas imports from Russia, as well as special taxes for energy companies.