Further delays to getting France’s nuclear plants back online, admits EDF

French state electricity giant EDF has further trimmed its estimated electricity output for this year, citing further delays in getting nuclear reactors back online during maintenance and safety checks.

Further delays to getting France's nuclear plants back online, admits EDF
An operator works in the control room at the third-generation European Pressurised Reactor project (EPR) nuclear reactor of Flamanville, Normandy Photo by Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP

Production is now seen at 275 to 285 terawatt hours (Twh), down from 280 to 300 Twh — already a cut from initial estimates for 2022, the company said late Thursday.

It was the latest setback for EDF’s race to restore operations at dozens of reactors that have been shut down for months because of safety risks from defective welds or scheduled maintenance.

France gets around 70 percent of its electricity from nuclear power, and the coming winter spike in demand means it will have to buy electricity from the European power market, where prices have soared as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine drags on.

READ ALSO Is France likely to face blackouts this winter?

EDF had already warned in September of a €29 billion financial hit this year from the reactor works, but the company did not reveal the potential new hit in its latest update.

But it said four reactors originally set to be back online in November or December would now be operational only in late January or February.

Almost half of the country’s 56 reactors, spread across 18 power plants, were taken offline, many because of fears over micro-cracks discovered in emergency cooling systems.

OPINION We won’t freeze this winter, but France is a long way from solving its nuclear problems

EDF’s financial woes prompted the government to renationalise the company earlier this year, and a new CEO, Luc Remont, is expected to be confirmed in his job later this month.

The company is central to President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to build at least six next-generation reactors, part of his push for energy “sovereignty.”

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France offers grants up to €1,500 to replace oil-fired boilers

Financial aid of up to €1,500 is temporarily available to households looking to replace oil-fired boilers with a more environmentally friendly heating systems. 

France offers grants up to €1,500 to replace oil-fired boilers

The temporary ‘coup de boost’ aims to encourage households to replace their oil-fired heating systems (chauffauge au fioul) and is in addition to the ‘coup de pouce chauffage’ (heating helping hand) scheme that is already underway to help under the energy saving certificates scheme (CEE).

All households that are primary residences – this aid is not available to second-home owners – equipped with an oil-fired boiler can benefit, with the amount for which they are eligible means-tested according to household resources and the replacement system chosen. 

Households with modest incomes benefit from a higher premium.

To benefit from the new temporary bonus, households must replace their individual oil-fired boiler with a more environmentally friendly heating system:

  • heat pump (air/water or hybrid);
  • combined solar system;
  • biomass boiler (wood or pellets);
  • connection to a heating network supplied mainly by renewable or recovered energy.

The total amount of financial help from the two schemes is €4,000 to €5,000 for low-income households; and from €2,500 to €4,000 for middle and high-income households.

For the connection of an individual house to a heating network, the amount of the bonus increases from €700 to €1,000 for low-income households; and from €450 to €900 for middle and high income households.

Estimates for the replacement of an oil-fired boiler must be accepted between October 29th, 2022, and June 30th, 2023, and work must be completed by December 31st, 2023.

The Coup de boost fioul aid can also be combined with MaPrimeRénov to replace an oil-fired boiler, meaning the least well-off households in France can benefit from aid of up to €16,000 to replace an oil-fired boiler with a pellet boiler or a combined solar system.

Since mid-April 2022, MaPrimeRénov’ financial aid has increased by an additional €1,000 for the installation of a renewable energy boiler. This can now reach €11,000 for the most efficient boilers (pellet boiler, combined solar system) and for households with modest incomes.

It must be noted that the installation of a very high energy performance gas boiler will no longer be eligible for MaPrimeRénov’ as of January 1st, 2023.

Find more details on the scheme HERE.