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France Becomes Net Power Importer

France’s capacity to import electricity from its neighbors increased by 30% to 12.2 GW in the 2016/2017 winter period.

For two straight months this winter, France was a net importer of electricity for the first time in five years, a trend that could continue during periods of peak demand no matter who wins the April-May presidential election.

France, usually a net exporter of electricity, imported a record 950 gigawatt-hours of power on a net basis in January, the highest level since 1980, as a cold snap increased demand for heating amid a series of prolonged nuclear outages, Reuters reported.

Dependence on its neighbors during peak winter demand could accelerate if France fails to develop renewables further or extend the lifespan of its 58 nuclear reactors, while cross-border exchange capacity continues to grow.

France’s capacity to import electricity from its neighbors increased by 30% to 12.2 GW in the 2016/2017 winter period, compared with winter of 2015/2016, French grid operator RTE said in its winter outlook.

France passed an ambitious energy law in 2015 with a target of cutting the share of nuclear in its electricity mix to 50% by 2025 from 75% currently, while investing in renewables and efficiency to curb consumption and heat loss.

Although the share of renewables has increased to about 16%, it lags its peers and is well below the International Energy Agency’s average of 24%, the IEA said in its January review of French energy policies.

 

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