Energy supply shock: UK exporting RECORD numbers to France despite facing own crisis

Martin Lewis despairs offering energy advice to pensioner

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Since Russia invaded Ukraine, European leaders have scrambled to end their reliance on Russian gas, as Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to cut EU countries off its supply in retaliation to Western sanctions. Europe’s energy woes have only deepened in the past few months, after reactor problems in French EDF power plants have forced record nuclear power station shutdowns in France. As a result, Britain’s power system has acted as a saviour for the EU, becoming a net exporter of electricity for the first time since 2017.

Energy supply shock: UK exporting RECORD numbers to France despite own facing own crisis

OVER the past few months, the UK has come to the rescue of several EU nations, including France, despite facing an energy crisis of its own.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, European leaders have scrambled to end their reliance on Russian gas, as Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to cut EU countries off its supply in retaliation to Western sanctions.

Figures from the National Grid have revealed that since the start of April, Britain has been a major exporter of electricity to Europe, powering countries including France, Belgium and the Netherlands through subsea cables.

This is a significant change, as the UK has generally been a net importer of electricity from Europe, particularly during times when renewable energy generation is low.

France’s energy woes play a major role in this reversal, as the country is facing its lowest nuclear output in over a decade after more than half of French nuclear reactors have gone offline in the past few months.

Many of EDF’s reactors, which are ageing and have had their lifespan extended by a decade, have gone offline for refuelling or maintenance.

However, several more reactors were forced to shut down after a report found corrosion safety problems inside one of the reactors, which could cause accidents.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Dr Bernard Laponche, the co-author of this study previously warned that cracks caused in the reactors due to this issues could risk a “Three Mile Island or a Fukushima-type accident“.

As a result of these corrosion problems, four 1500 MW, seven 1300 MW and one 900 MW reactors are shut down.

Meanwhile, British gas-fired power stations have enjoyed record gas supplies as shipments carrying massive quantities of liquified natural gas arrived at the country’s ports.

Given that the gas shipped to Britain was far more than it could pump into Europe through pipelines, the gas stations were able to use that excess supply for electricity generation.

Joe Camish, the lead analyst at the consultancy Cornwall Insight noted that energy woes in France have pushed power prices in the country to record highs “which has led to the regular occurrence of [Great Britain] to France exports”.

Energy consultancy EnAppSys has estimated that even in the deep winter, the UK will end up exporting electricity to mainland Europe, despite the fact that Britain usually relies on countries like France and Norway during such months.

During a conference yesterday, Fintan Slye, head of National Grid ESO said that the UK would likely continue to help make up for shortfalls in French nuclear output this year.

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He said: “The two system operators [Britain and France] talk on a continuous basis and the concept of mutual support in times of stress has always been there,”

Although the UK gets little of its gas directly from Russia, it has not been immune to shocks in the market, sending the price of gas soaring over the last several months.

Ofgem has warned that as a result of the upcoming price cap increase, millions of families will be thrown into fuel poverty.

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