Sweden’s dams are about to surpass French nuclear power plants. The affront is significant for EDF and the French reactor fleet, the traditional base of Europe’s energy system. According to data from energy data analyst EnAppSys, Sweden overtook France as Europe’s leading net electricity exporter in the first half of the year. In other words: “France has changed from a net exporter at the beginning of the year to a net importer,” emphasizes the British company.
The Nordic country leads in exporting 16 terawatt hours (TWh) between January and June, mostly to Finland and Denmark. Closely followed by Germany, which exported 15.4 TWh, twice as much as in the first half of 2021, particularly in response to increased demand in France.
Sweden has one of the greenest sources of electricity in Europe, thanks in particular to its dams. According to the website Electricity Maps, just under half of the electricity available in Sweden comes from hydropower and almost a third from nuclear.
France, a traditional exporter
The decline in France goes further back, with exports falling by more than 70% between August 2021 and August 2022. The shutdown of many EDF reactors for overhaul after corrosion problems is questionable. This Wednesday, for example, French nuclear power plants were only running at half their total power generation capacity. The climatic conditions did not help the production of renewable energies either; the French dams suffered particularly from the country’s early drought.
These difficulties led to a halving of exports in the first half of the year compared to the previous year. Already at the beginning of the year, the French energy company corrected its forecasts downwards with a nuclear production of 300 to 330 terawatt hours (TWh) in 2022 after the originally planned 330 to 360 TWh.
Agreement with Berlin
The European grid imbalance was particularly noticeable in July, when electricity prices soared. Demand increased by 3% in Europe due to heatwaves and the need for air conditioning. Aware of the lack of supply, the state even signed an agreement with Germany at the end of July. Paris has pledged to ship up to 5% of its annual gas consumption to Germany in the event of a shortage, and Berlin has pledged to supply electricity if needed.
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