Posted Nov 28, 2022, 6:57 PMUpdated Nov. 28, 2022, 6:59 p.m.
France uses all the means at its disposal to get through the winter. The Emile-Huchet coal-fired power plant in Saint-Avold (Moselle), which closed last March, started producing electricity again on Monday morning, said site director Philippe Lenglart.
The temperatures, hitherto relatively mild, are now “seasonal and we have been called upon to produce since 9 a.m. this morning”, he said, confirming information from several media.
Very emitting CO2, the Emile-Huchet power plant, one of the last in the French fleet to run on coal, was to close its doors definitively at the end of March, but the government did not already exclude restarting it “as a precaution” to secure the country’s electricity supply given the conflict in Ukraine and the setbacks encountered by EDF’s nuclear fleet.
At the end of June, the government had thus announced its desire to reopen it this winter, a restart which “is part of the closure plan”, had then underlined the Ministry of Energy Transition. The ministry had insisted that Emmanuel Macron’s commitment to close all coal-fired power plants in France remained “unchanged”.
The purchasing power law passed in early August also included a measure allowing GazelEnergie to rehire employees this winter. More than half had to retire, and the youngest had to be reclassified within the company’s new projects. GazelEnergie plans, among other things, to build a biomass boiler to replace the coal-fired power plant.
Coal remains largely in the minority
In total, it will take more than 500,000 tonnes of coal to run the site until the end of March which, when operating at full capacity, produces up to 600 megawatt hours and can supply a third of the homes in the Grand Est region.
There is only one other coal-fired power station, in Cordemais (Loire-Atlantique), still open in France. In France, more than 67% of the electricity produced is of nuclear origin, the share of fossil fuels having been 7.5% in 2020, including 0.3% coal and 6.9% gas.
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