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France’s Need to Burn Gas Pushed Power Emissions to Five-Year High – Bloomberg

France’s Need to Burn Gas Pushed Power Emissions to Five-Year High

Francois de Beaupuy, Bloomberg News

EnergiesNet.com 02 17 2023

France’s greenhouse gas emissions from its power sector jumped to a five-year high in 2022 as nuclear outages forced it to use more gas to keep the lights during the energy crisis.

Emissions from generating electricity rose 16% to 25 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, grid operator Reseau de Transport d’Electricite said in a report on Thursday. The increase shows how the country’s green goals have faced short-term threats from nuclear maintenance and repairs.

“Emissions of greenhouse gases in electricity production rose, albeit in a reasonable fashion,” RTE President Xavier Piechaczyk said at a press conference. France ranked third on that measure in Europe, behind Sweden and Finland, he said.

France’s atomic output plunged to the lowest since 1988, turning the country into a net importer of power for the first time in four decades and exacerbating Europe’s energy crunch. Costs of electricity, gas and carbon permits soared across the continent last summer, but have eased in recent months amid a mild winter and as Electricite de France SA made some progress on reactor repairs.

Cracking Under Pressure: The Race to Fix France’s Nuclear Plants

“We’re more optimistic for the winter 2023-24 than for winter 2022-23” as regards France’s power output, said Thomas Veyrenc, executive director in charge of strategy at RTE. “Even if nuclear output will remain low, it shouldn’t as low as in 2022.” 

France’s gas-fired power generation climbed 34% last year, while solar and wind power production also rose as the country commissioned a record amount of new renewable capacity.

Still, total electricity production slumped 15% to a 30-year low, with nuclear output dropping by almost a quarter. Hydropower generation slipped 19% to the lowest since 1976 because of heat waves and drought. 

Adjusted for weather effects and working days, power consumption fell 1.7% as high prices and conservation efforts curbed demand. 

(Updates with chart on emissions and comment in fifth paragraph. An earlier version corrected the percentage of hydropower in the pie chart)

EnergiesNet.com 02 16 2023

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