France has extended the legal operation times of coal plants in the country in order to combat blackouts this winter. (EPA-EFE/TERESA SUAREZ)


France extends coal-fired power-plant operation times to avoid winter power cuts


France has extended the legal operating times of coal-burning power-plants in the country to combat possible blackouts this winter.

Two coal-fired power stations have been granted an extra 500 hours of operation time for this year, bringing them up to a maximum of 1,800 legal hours.

This is roughly equivalent to 75 days of non-stop production, Le Figaro has reported.

Regarding the extension, France’s energy ministry emphasised that the move was precautionary in nature, saying it expected there to be less “tension” in the grid this year compared to 2022.

“But as a precaution, we are taking all the measures which will ensure French electricity production,” the department added.

The response in France to the announcement has been critical, with one energy expert claiming that the extension represented a “partial admission of failure” regarding the French Government’s “green” agenda.

“We thought we would have happy energy sobriety and that electricity consumption would drop, but we can clearly see that this is not the case,” science professor at Sciences Po Paris Thierry Bros remarked.

He added that the switch to renewables was never going to be as simple as “just posting about climate change on Twitter”.

Others have claimed that the two power-plants that had their time extended have a combined production similar to the Fessenheim nuclear plant in Northern France, which was shut in 2020.

Former French Socialist Party president François Hollande had pledged to close the plant shortly after the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011, with current President Emmanuel Macron later fulfilling the promise, much to the delight of anti-nuclear campaigners in the country.

The power-station is listed by Le Monde as having emitted around 6 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour. By contrast, the average coal power plant emits 950 grams of CO2 for every kilowatt-hour of electricity generated.