France requests emergency cut in electricity exports to UK as nuclear crisis deepens

RTE, France’s electricity network operator, has requested emergency help from the UK as cold weather caused demand to surge across Europe.

On 13 December, as it wrestled with a spike in demand, RTE asked the National Grid if it could halve its scheduled exports through one of its interconnectors to the UK between 8am and 9am.

A combination of the cold weather, strikes among its nuclear power workers and delayed maintenance on its fleet of reactors prompted the request.

The request came as the National Grid ESO stood down two Drax coal-fired power stations in North Yorkshire. These had been instructed to warm up in case of a surge in demand for energy as a cold snap hit Britain.

A combination of seasonal weather and increased demand, a ‘perfect storm’ of events in the French nuclear sector and ongoing conflict in Ukraine has put serious pressure on energy supplies; European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has warned that the European Union could face a gas shortage next year if Russia further cuts supplies.