French nuclear power response to the Russian energy crisis in Europe

In the face of what appears to be Russia’s political rewards of reducing energy exports to Europe, France is looking for nuclear options to secure its own supply and power the continent.

President Emmanuel Macron has announced plans to build six new reactors. According to the World Nuclear Association, we are considering eight more units depending on the demand for electricity.

On July 27, Russian energy giant Gazprom again reduced Nord Stream 1’s gas flow, further increasing European tensions over available supplies.

Germany blamed the move as political, but Russia again blamed the technical problem.

Russia’s complete cutoff of natural gas is likely to exacerbate Europe’s energy crisis, raising gas prices by almost two percent.

“Everyone in the market expected Russia’s volume to decline, but the market didn’t expect the flow to decline so rapidly,” said James Huckstepp, manager of Emea Gas Analysis. Mr. says. Said Financial Times.

Russia’s decline is the latest in a series of declines, with the amount of natural gas flowing through the pipeline reaching 20 percent of its capacity.

and address On July 25, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of “gas blackmail” because Europe supported Russia’s invasion.

“This is the obvious gas war that Russia is waging against unified Europe. This is exactly the way it should be recognized. They are what happens to people and how they suffer. I don’t care — from hunger due to the blockade of the harbor, or from the cold and poverty of winter … or from the occupation. These are just different forms of terrorism. “

Volodymyr Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asks questions at a press conference in Kieu, Ukraine, on April 23, 2022. (John Moore / Getty Images)

On February 24, Russia invaded Ukraine, intensifying the conflict that has continued since 2014. In response, the United States has begun working with groups of G7 countries and the European Union in an attempt to curb Russia’s aggression.Start a series of escalations Sanctions..

Initially, the sanctions were monetary. The United States has blocked major Russian banks such as VEB and Promsvyazbank. according to To the Bureau of Foreign Trade.

The United States and its allies then sanctioned dozens of Russian defense companies and Russian elites and their families to cut off support and financial assistance to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It then blocked the assets of two of Russia’s largest financial institutions, Sberbank and Alphabank.

However, these sanctions did not prevent Russia from invading Ukraine, and on March 8, President Joe Biden said. Executive order Ban Russia’s oil imports. Before the ban, the United States imported about 700,000 barrels daily.

Germany and Poland have also promised to ban Russia’s oil by curtailing pipeline imports by the end of the year.

On June 3, the European Union joined the above countries mid-together to sanction Russia’s oil imports by imposing a partial embargo on Russian oil from December 2022 and February 2023. did. according to To the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Importantly, EU member states such as Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic are dependent on pipelines for energy production, so pipeline imports have been exempted from future bans.

Epoch Times Photo
The Astora Natural Gas Depot, the largest natural gas depot in Western Europe, was painted in Rehden, Germany, on March 16, 2022. Astora is part of the Gazprom Germania Group. (Fabian Bimmer / Reuters)

In response, Russia has promised to find other oil importers, especially China and India. Putin has signed a decree requiring foreign natural gas buyers to pay in rubles, and Russia has begun to reduce natural gas exports to Europe.

Denmark, Finland, Bulgaria and Poland all refused to comply, and Russia stopped supplying gas to these countries.

Russia then cut natural gas imports into Slovakia and Italy in half and cut off France altogether. The explanation of Russia’s technical problems was rejected by Germany. On July 23, Russia further reduced its gas supply to several European countries.

In particular, Russia is the largest supplier of natural gas to blocks in 27 countries, so Russia’s move to cut gas supplies to European countries has created a new energy crisis in Europe.

“Russia’s pipeline gas flow to Europe plummeted to about 40% of its level a year ago, contributing to the surge in natural gas prices in June,” said the International Monetary Fund (IMF). I am. report In July.

Kremlin counterattacks

In addition, energy sanctions on Russia had a modest impact on Russia’s economy and had a significant impact on Europe.

“Russia’s economy is estimated to have shrunk in the second quarter than previously expected, with crude oil and non-energy exports higher than expected.

“In addition, domestic demand is showing some resilience, thanks to the containment of the effects of sanctions on the domestic financial sector and the weakening of the labor market, which is lower than expected.

“Relatedly, the impact of the war on major European economies is due to the slowdown in manufacturing momentum due to rising energy prices, declining consumer confidence, continued supply chain disruption and rising input costs. , It’s more negative than expected, “reports the IMF.

Of further concern IMF Analyzing the potential impact of Russia’s natural gas being completely shut down by Germany, gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by 1.5% in 2022 and 2.7% in 2023, and in 2022 and 2023. Inflation was found to rise by 2% in both cases. ..

In addition, unless gas consumption is reduced by at least 9%, Germans will experience a concentrated gas shortage in winter.

Epoch Times Photo
Germany aims for wind and solar power to provide 65% of the energy needed by 2030. (Shutterstock)

In 2000, Germany enacted the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG). The law required that 6% of energy be sourced from renewable resources.

The law was amended in 2017, with 40-45% of energy coming from renewables in 2025 and up to 65% in 2030. according to To the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy.

In this way, the transition from fossil fuels called Energy Vende to renewable energy began.

By 2017, nuclear power had fallen to 11.7% of Germany’s electricity mix, and lignite and anthracite had fallen to 36.6%.

Renewable energy increased, accounting for 33.3% of Germany’s electricity mix, driven by wind power, for a total of about 110 TWh.

Wind and sun

In Germany, the proportion of nuclear and fossil fuels is declining, but renewable energy cannot completely make up for the difference. As a result, in 2017, natural gas accounted for 13.2 percent of Germany’s energy mix.

By 2019, natural gas has risen to 25% of Germany’s total energy consumption. according to To the US Energy Information Administration.

Dr. Sara Roman, a non-resident fellow at the Johns Hopkins University Institute for Contemporary German Studies, report“Unfortunately, in the passion to lead the pack, Germany did not do the calculation perfectly.

“It has been decided to phase out it because it is not producing enough renewable energy to replace nuclear or coal. Next year, the last reactor shutdown will result in a 4.5GW shortage. It’s possible. That’s the amount offered by 10 large coal-fired power plants. “

In Germany, Roman added, “The median household pays 43% more than the average electricity bill in the other 27 countries of the European Union, thanks to taxes and charges that make up 50% of the tabs. Pay for the transition to possible energy. “

To make up for this shortage, Germany partially turned to Russia. However, Russia is currently under strict sanctions and is responding in kind, so in July the German parliament rushed through a law allowing retired coal-fired power plants to be brought back online.

Epoch Times Photo
The cooling towers of the two reactors were in operation at the Golfech nuclear power plant in southwestern France on November 27, 2012. (EricCabanis / AFP / Getty Images)

In July 2022 reportThe IMF emphasized that Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Italy and Germany are most vulnerable to Russia’s energy aggression because they rely on energy imports.

Conversely, countries such as France, Spain and the United Kingdom were emphasized as being reasonably isolated.

More importantly, France is Europe’s largest electricity exporter (mainly the United Kingdom and Italy), in addition to being relatively safe from Russia’s energy provocation, exporting more than 70 TWh each year over the last decade. increase. according to To the World Nuclear Association.

Energy self-sufficiency

In fact, France derives about 70% of its electricity from nuclear energy and 17% from recycled nuclear fuel.

“As a result of the 1974 decision, France now claims a significant level of energy self-sufficiency and below-average electricity costs in Europe.

“Also, since more than 80% of electricity comes from nuclear or hydropower, the per capita carbon dioxide emissions from power generation are very low.”

In February 2022, Macron announced plans to increase its nuclear power capacity in order to solidify France’s energy independence and assist Europe in the event of an energy crisis.

Katie Spence


Katie covers the energy and politics of The Epoch Times. Prior to starting his journalist career, Katie proudly served as a JSTARS paratrooper engineer in the Air Force. She holds a degree in Analytic Philosophy and a minor in Cognitive Studies from the University of Colorado. Katie’s work can be found on, The Maverick Observer, The Motley Fool, First Quarter Finance, The Cheat Sheet, and Email her at [email protected]