Emmanuel Macron on high alert after warning winter power cuts

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The French President and his Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne hit back at their opposers claiming their remarks over energy warnings are “clumsy” and “fearmongering”. Opposition MPs in France are warning Macron’s plan to counter the energy crisis will not be sufficient to avoid power cuts this winter.

In a letter sent to the Government, the French leaders have been urged to prepare local emergency plans for potential sudden electricity cuts.

Communist MP Sébastien Jumel accused the government of “energy irresponsibility”, telling the National Assembly on Tuesday: “Citizens are paying the price of the government’s unpreparedness.”

Speaking on the outskirts of the EU-Western Balkans summit on Tuesday, President Macron urged leaders “not to govern by fear”.

He added: “We have a great energy model. We will make it through this winter despite the war.”

Ms Borne also hit out at critics, defending her government’s preparedness for the crisis.

She said the government will “examine all scenarios, however improbable” to best prevent energy cuts.

France is not the only EU country risking major power outages this winter.

According to a report by ENTSO-E, the European association for the cooperation of transmission system operators for electricity, Ireland Southern Sweden, Finland, Malta and Cyprus are also at risk.

The report read: “The report shows higher adequacy risk compared to previous winters. The main system stress is identified in Ireland, France, Southern Sweden, Finland, Malta and Cyprus systems.

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“There are some additional risks identified for the winter that could materialise and have a substantial impact on the adequacy situation, especially if they coincide.

“Close follow-up is needed on the uncertainties around nuclear availability in France, Sweden and Finland, as well as coal supply in Germany and Poland”.

The invasion of Ukraine has made countries across Europe reconsider plans to cut their use of fossil fuels.

Britain has also approved more North Sea oil and gas drilling, while the Czech Republic reversed a plan to stop coal mining in a key region.

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France recently restarted a shuttered coal plant, abandoning an earlier vow by President Macron to close all coal-burning plants in the country by the end of this year.

Aside from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, over the past decade, extreme climate-related events caused over €145billion in economic losses across the EU.

A new paper from industry body Eurelectric documents the amplitude and acceleration of extreme weather impacts on the power sector. In July 2021, floods in Belgium and Germany resulted in 200 000 customer outages. During the winter 2021-2022, storms in the UK and Ireland led to over one million households being without power.

The latest COP brought the need for climate adaptation to the attention of world leaders. The power sector is already acting and investing now to avoid higher costs later. Such investment is needed in the entire system: both in grids and generation assets.

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