After a myriad of health defense tips, here is the energy defense tip. Emmanuel Macron will chair this meeting on Friday devoted to the supply of gas and electricity to France. France fears shortages as summer draws to a close, bringing in its wake the coming of autumn and winter, which could prove to be cool and therefore particularly costly in terms of energy.
Especially since gas flows from Russia have gradually decreased. The Europeans are trying to prepare for a total shutdown, which could come in response to Western sanctions against Moscow, which invaded Ukraine in early February. According to Lamis Aljounaidi, energy economist and director of Paris Infrastructure Advisory, “France’s electricity production capacity is limited by our infrastructure and we had concerns about the availability of certain nuclear power plants. If we don’t have enough gas, we risk having supply problems”.
Delay and Meteorological Sword of Damocles
The government’s objective is therefore to prepare for the worst-case scenario. But according to Maria-Eugenia Sanin, lecturer in economics at Paris Saclay University and expert in energy issues, Paris is already behind. “It would have been necessary to announce lines of action almost from the start of the conflict, to plan the supply of winter and, further, the energy independence of Europe”, she explains to 20 Minutes.
The level of crisis will be determined in particular by the weather. But, for the moment, it is difficult to plan, the meteorological analyzes being really reliable only ten days out. Further on, meteorologists lose precision. “We will have to manage the scarcity of resources which will only manifest itself during the most tense hours of the day”, underlines Lamis Aljounaidi, in particular around 7 p.m. when most households use their electricity.
However, cuts lasting several days should not be expected and it is unlikely that the French will experience an evening in the dark at home. The executive should first and foremost look to business. Because the mechanisms already exist. Every year, the RTE, the electricity system operator in France, issues a report to verify our energy security.
In the event of severe cold, these already existing systems could therefore be strongly encouraged by the government. “For electro-intensive industries, there is a mechanism of ‘paid volunteering'”, explains Lamis Aljounaidi, adding that this “allows these companies to reduce their bills if they agree not to consume energy at certain key times. “. If “historically, it has not been used much”, this technique could make it possible to unload the network during peaks in consumption.
The exhortation trap
If the situation becomes more critical, the State could turn to load shedding rules. In a crisis situation, it can stop the delivery of certain sites. “Hospitals are the very last in the list”, underlines the director of Paris Infrastructure Advisory. As for households, they are also quite low in the hierarchy. However, the government of Elisabeth Borne could turn to incitement.
For several weeks, the ministers have multiplied the warnings and asked the French to reason their electricity consumption. “The exhortation is not a good idea because you can find reasons – often good ones, for not following the recommendations. While if we put a policy in place to remunerate energy savings by manufacturers and individuals and to penalize energy expenditure, people who make a real effort would be rewarded”, underlines Maria-Eugenia Sanin.
SMS alerts and nightly laundry
However, recommendations are sometimes effective. “Warning mechanisms were piloted in Brittany and the Pacail region a few years ago, two regions where there is more consumption than production. We sent alerts to households by SMS to ask them to reduce their consumption when there was tension on the network. And this mechanism has shown favorable results”, illustrates Lamis Aljounaidi. This system could therefore be extended to the national scale in the event of tension on the network.
It is above all a question of communication. “If you ask me the price of the electricity that I am consuming now, I cannot tell you that I am an energy expert”, illustrates Maria-Eugenia Sanin. While an SMS informing that at a specific moment the network is saturated is much clearer. The network being under tension, the French, informed, are numerous to postpone their laundry, for example. However, it would still be more efficient with preferential rates at night, for example, insists the energy expert.
Twelve million French people in fuel poverty
However, inflation could be enough of an incentive. For many French people, electricity has become a luxury and its use more parsimonious. The abandonment of the tariff shield for a fairer measure could also improve this reduction. “With the tariff shield, we help households that do not need to be helped and we do not sufficiently protect the others”, regrets Maria-Eugenia Sanin, who points out that 12 million French people are in a situation of fuel poverty.
Either way, the government will have to announce strong measures. Giving clear lines and specific dates for the reopening of shutdown French nuclear power plants, for example, could have a positive impact on energy prices. “On the markets, there is anticipation,” underlines Maria-Eugenia Sanin. With a concrete plan to reduce demand and increase the supply of electricity, “we would have a real impact on market prices”, she assures us. It remains to be seen whether the Elysée meeting will produce real measures or only recommendations.
Source: 20Minutes – Une by www.20minutes.fr.
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