Energy crisis: Agnès Pannier-Runacher at the grill at the meeting

Energy crisis: Agnès Pannier-Runacher at the grill at the meeting

The atmosphere was electric that Tuesday afternoon, September 13, in the crowded chamber of the National Assembly’s Economic Committee. On the agenda that day: the hearing of Agnès Pannier-Runacher. The Energy Transition Minister was invited to present MEPs with her roadmap for both this winter and the road to zero carbon by 2050, with four pillars: “Efficiency and sobriety, massive deployment of renewable energy, revitalization of nuclear energy and diplomatic action in Brussels on the… Reform of the European electricity market”. A frustrating exercise for many MEPs, disappointed to see that the real government announcements will finally be made at a press conference by Elisabeth Borne this Wednesday. Paradoxically, at a time when Emmanuel Macron is expecting a renewed exercise of power with more debate , consultation and democracy promises.

“There is no risk of blackout,” wanted to reassure the energy transition minister, who first reiterated that the government is working on the “worst-case scenario” for this winter, while industry players anticipate future grid tensions, in a complicated context . The war in Ukraine is disrupting fossil energy supply cycles and sending prices skyrocketing, with a record price of 1,000 euros per megawatt hour reached in late August, delayed expansion of renewable energies and a weakened nuclear fleet. In view of this situation, the minister wanted to reassure by listing all the measures already taken: the replenishment of gas reserves “two months in advance”, the expansion of the Saint Avold coal-fired power plant – “not good news for the environment, but a safety issue”, justified the minister, who also mentioned the diversification of gas supplies. Russian gas currently accounts for 7% to 9% of France‘s supply, compared to 17% in 2020. Finally, Agnès Pannier-Runacher insisted EDF must meet its maintenance schedule, which will be “a priority for new management”. However, while 31 out of 56 reactors are shut down, including 12 due to corrosion problems, the minister did not answer the question of whether all will be up and running again this winter.

The government is therefore betting on sobriety in this regard, with the aim of reducing the country’s energy consumption by 10% over the next two years. “This is a structural approach that should go beyond two years,” assured the minister, who recalled the creation of nine sectoral working groups to mobilize primarily large companies that “manage millions of square meters of buildings and the mobility of millions of people for their professional life.” An effort of sobriety that will not affect the 12 million precarious energy in France, promised Agnès Pannier-Runacher, recalling the 150 million euros in additional energy certificates released before the summer.


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