France coal-fired power plants get short-term right to burn more

Cordemais power station in western France. (Image by KaTeznik, Wikimedia Commons).

France is temporarily allowing electricity producers to burn more coal after the nation’s grid operator warned of possible power shortages.

The government formally raised the cap on running coal-fired power stations for the months of January and February, according to a decree published Sunday in the official journal. The Ecology Ministry proposed the loosening in early January, saying it was necessary to ensure a secure supply of electricity when power use is high during the cold winter months.

Coal is playing a bigger role in Europe’s energy mix during the winter even as prices rise and climate concerns pressure governments to curb its use.

France’s coal units will be allowed to operate for about 1,000 hours over the first two months of 2022, 300 hours more than the cap that was set in 2019 to help curb carbon emissions.

The grid operator, Reseau de Transport d’Electricite, said in December that France ran the risk of a power shortfall in the event of a cold snap and insufficient wind energy. An unusually high number of nuclear reactors have been halted for maintenance.

(By Phil Serafino)

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