France fires up coal power in U-turn

The French government have relaxed regulations, only recently introduced, to extend the working life of old coal power plants as a way to meet the country’s electricity needs.

French Environment Minister, Barbara Pompili, (pictured) initiated the process to end the legislation, which only came into force at New Year. She says the measure is necessary to ensure the security of the power supply following alerts from network operator, RTE.

The proposed amendment is to allow coal to power the national electrical grid for 1,000 hours just in January and February. This is more that the 700 hours of operating time for the entire year now permitted.

France’s famed nuclear energy is producing its lowest ever output due to maintenance work and technical difficulties and so the national network looks to two coal-fired power stations.

At the same time, the schedule for the coal phase-out remains unchanged. One of these two power plants is due to cease production at the end of March and the other in 2024.

They may not be necessary to maintain the electricity supply. It is only in the worst case scenario of a particularly cold winter with no wind to drive wind turbines.

Further, the nuclear power plants currently shut down for maintenance (scheduled to go back into operation within this first quarter or the year) may never go back online, depending on whether they can be safely and sufficiently repaired.


Frankreich wirft die Kohlekraftwerke an (France starts up coal-fired power plants), Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 2022-01-07

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