Power cuts to avert shortages over the winter?

Electricity may be temporarily switched off in certain locations in France in January and February to avoid uncontrolled blackouts. The reason for potential shortages is that 18 of France's 56 nuclear reactors are currently off the grid due to maintenance measures which had so far been postponed. Sweden also fears power shortages and has put an oil-fired reserve power plant into operation. European commentators take different views of the measures.

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Le Quotidien (LU) /

Nerves on edge

The mere thought of power cuts is triggering panic in France, Le Quotidien notes:

“A rush on camping stoves, a desperate hunt for generators, the buying of candles by the kilo. ... Is there a war in France? No, not yet. The announcement that there could be power cuts this winter is putting a severe strain on certain people's nerves. The constant reports on the news channels and the speeches by Macron's opponents have added to the despair of many residents, who are now running from store to store as if preparing for the imminent end of the age of electricity. And the French state seems unable to calm this hysteria.”

Le Monde (FR) /

No need to panic

The whole discussion is misguided, criticises Le Monde:

“It's dangerous because it fuels Putin's propaganda, which exploits all the dimensions of the energy crisis even if they have nothing to do with the sanctions against Russia. And it's counterproductive because panic won't help us get through the winter. The French are afraid of being caught off guard with unexpected power cuts? Why is it that less than two million households have downloaded the écoWatt app, which lets them know when consumption will peak three days in advance so they can prepare for any disruptions, which won't last more than two hours anyway? ... Some Ukrainians don't even have two hours of electricity per day. The blackout, if it occurs, will be mainly moral.”

The Economist (GB) /

France's nuclear industry now a problem case

Regarding energy policy, all eyes are now on the Grande Nation, The Economist says:

“France should, in other words, be basking in the warm glow of controlled fission reactions. Instead, after a decade of mismanagement and political mixed signals, its nuclear industry is desperately trying not to implode. ... A lot is riding on its resolution. Europe is counting on the French nuclear industry to stop being a drag on the continent's beleaguered energy system this winter. Emmanuel Macron, France's president, is counting on it for a national nuclear renaissance. More broadly, its success may determine whether the world's newer nuclear converts see the French experience as an object lesson - or a cautionary tale.”

Göteborgs-Posten (SE) /

Sweden needs to prepare for power cuts too

Göteborgs-Posten calls on politicians to take both short- and long-term precautions:

“Precise plans are needed for a situation where you can't heat up the food in an old people's home, where the entire railway network comes to a standstill. ... Private individuals have to be prepared for lifts being out of order, for mobile phones not working. The fact that it has come to this is largely due to naive energy policy decisions [by the former social democratic-Green government against nuclear power]. Hopefully we and the politicians will learn from this.”

Aftonbladet (SE) /

Stop the trench warfare in energy policy!

Now is the time for a clear-sighted approach on all levels, Aftonbladet stresses:

“In the here and now, there is only one thing to do: cut down on electricity consumption as much as possible. But households and businesses also need clear statements - for this winter and beyond. And the state can't just stand by while energy companies make record profits with Putin's war. At the same time, electricity production must be expanded. ... Today's trench warfare between the fossil-free energies must stop. Wind power is the fastest way to increase production. But it's hard to imagine that nuclear power shouldn't continue to play an important role.”