France is considering a plan to allow electricity producers to burn more coal after the nation’s grid operator warned of possible power shortages.
The government may raise the annual cap on running coal-fired power stations, plugging a potential gap in supply as an unusually high number of nuclear reactors halt for maintenance just as the coldest months get under way.
The country’s three remaining coal units may be permitted to operate for about 1,000 hours over the first two months of 2022, according to a draft decree on the Ecology Ministry’s website. That’s 300 hours more than the annual cap that was set in 2019 to help curb carbon emissions.
“This measure is necessary to ensure security of electricity supply,” the ministry said. “It raises electricity production margins only for the most problematic period of winter in January and February 2022, while keeping the target of a definitive halt of coal stations in mainland France.”
Under the draft decree, the cap would be lower for the rest of 2022 than for the first two months, and the annual limit would fall back to 700 hours from 2023.
The grid operator, Reseau de Transport d’Electricite, said last month that France risked an electricity shortfall in the event of a cold snap and insufficient wind energy.
According to current rules, coal-fired power plants would be unavailable from February for the rest of 2022 if they’re used throughout January, RTE said.
The draft decree has been submitted for public consultation.
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