With winter fast approaching, France is conducting a frantic audit of its much-vaunted energy infrastructure. The big question: if the winter proves to be long, cold and wet, is there enough electrical capacity to see the country, and its industry, through to the spring of 2023?
A year ago, the results of such an appraisal would have attracted few headlines outside of the specialist press. Yes, more than 20 of the 56 nuclear reactors that would normally generate 70 per cent of the nation’s power were unexpectedly offline, awaiting either repair or extended maintenance. But wind turbines, solar panels and hydroelectric power, plus easily available and moderately priced imported gas, could be relied on with confidence to take up the slack.