An Energy Plan for France and the UK

Environmental activist group Bellona report that President Hollande wishes to reduce France’s dependency on nuclear power:

France’s President François Hollande Friday renewed campaign promises that swept him to power in May to reduce his country’s reliance on nuclear energy to 50 percent by 2025 from its current level of more than 75 percent – the world’s highest atomic energy dependence rate. [from September 2012]

It suddenly struck me that France will have nuclear power stations that it no longer needs and the UK needs nuclear power stations that it cannot afford to build. The solution is absurdly simple. The UK can simply contract to buy 20 GW of nuclear power from France while France presses on to modernise its infrastructure by deploying more bio-energy, wind and solar power. This will also save France and EDF energy an enormous amount of money by deferring decommissioning costs. Its seems to be a win, win, win solution.


Certain opinions were expressed in the comments to my last post that prompted me to have another look at the French electricity system. For example:

France as an island grid would instantly run into blackouts.


I am sure interconnectors which give access to the reserves of many countries which do not need these reserves at this time are much much cheaper. France relies on German and other reserves for many years now, and always could get the needed supplies. Without their grid connections in all directions this would not work.

So is this true, reliable information? Where does energy fact end and energy fantasy begin? And can Mr Hollande tell the difference?

It is worth noting at this point that France, with 4.96 tonnes CO2 per capita per annum, already has amongst the lowest per capita CO2 emissions in the OECD as noted recently by Ed Hoskins. Roger Andrews has also made the point that going nuclear is the most effective way to reduce CO2 emissions. According to Bellona, Mr Hollande wants to be in the lead in the international race to eliminate CO2:

Speaking at an environmental conference in Paris, Hollande said he would consider far larger cuts in France’s carbon dioxide emissions than those forwarded by his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy – recommending a 40 percent cut in emissions by 2030 and a 60 percent reduction by 2040, well beyond the  current European Union-wide target of 20 percent by 2020.

France, with 4.96 tonnes CO2 per capita in 2014 is heading for 1.98 tonnes per capita in 2040. Without nuclear power! That’s not far above where India is now.

France Today

Let me begin by looking at France’s antiquated electricity supply system using Gridwatch data for January 2016 to illustrate a point.

Figure 1 Electricity supply for France, January 2016. Click chart for a large version. Note that I accidentally omitted biomass that runs at a relatively minor 500 MW. It was a lot of work to revise the chart. And pumping is excluded since it ran negative numbers throughout the whole month (Leo?). French consumption is much higher than the UK because electricity is used for space heating instead of natural gas. Nuclear provides all base load and load following is provided mainly by hydro and gas.

Figure 1 shows the dominance of nuclear power that Mr Hollande wishes to end. The black line shows demand and close examination of the chart will show how nuclear, coal, gas and hydro almost match demand exactly (click the chart to get a large readable version). How antiquated can you get! What this means is that the small amounts of wind and solar power comprise the surplus that France exports.

It is to be noted that in the period 18th to 22nd January, wind fell to almost zero and demand was high, presumably because it was cold, and in fact in that period France was a net importer of a couple of GW for a few hours on the 20th and 21st (Figure 2).

Figure 2 The pattern of French electricity imports and exports are described more fully in the text below. France, lying at the heart of Europe, has grid connections with Germany, UK, Belgium, Spain, Italy and Switzerland. Maximum exports exceeded 15 GW in January. To be clear, these international grid connections are a good thing. The question is at what scale do they cease to make sense? It should be clear that France could quite easily have got through January without them. But these grid connections are highly beneficial to France’s neighbours who can borrow France’s surplus capacity when they need it.

The pattern of imports and exports is interesting. In summary, France with its antiquated infrastructure finds itself exporting large amounts of electricity for most of the time. Notably Germany, Belgium and Spain are net importers from France most of the time. In the case of Germany and Spain this is likely to be one of the key benefits of their advanced Energiewende. The UK (England) in January 2016 was also an importer most of the time, one of the direct benefits of closing down dirty polluting coal fired generation, but did on occasions export to France. Italy, was the only country exporting to France for most of the time and since France had no need for this power this needs to be viewed as Italy exporting to Germany, Belgium and Spain via the French transmission system, which no doubt earned France transmission fees.

The France – UK Energy Deal

EDF, the state-owned owner of all nuclear power in France also owns and operates most nuclear power stations in the UK. It should therefore be straightforward for EDF to simply start selling nuclear power from France to UK customers. 20 GW of new inter-connectors would be required in order to connect French reactors to UK consumers. I have not looked into the cost, but this is likely to be a tiny fraction of the cost of decommissioning 20GW of power stations in France and building 20 GW new nuclear in the UK. This is a deal made in heaven.

Now we will have a look at what the French system may look like if a deal was struck  for the UK to buy 20 GW of French nuclear over the next 20 years. The model below shows French nuclear reduced by 40% that is roughly by 20 GW to reflect the 20GW on permanent contract to the UK. To compensate, and to fulfil Mr Hollande’s pledge to the French people I have multiplied existing wind by a factor of 6, existing solar by a factor of 12 and existing biomass by a factor of 4. The production in this new advanced electricity system amounts to 54.9 TWh compared with 54.6 TWh in the high nuclear system of today. At first glance it doesn’t look too bad. But an obvious feature of the advanced energy system is that supply no longer matches demand. But that doesn’t matter because advanced societies simply build inter-connectors to buy and sell electricity like financial derivatives making a few people stinking rich. I’m sure that is what Mr Hollande (or his advisors) had in mind.

Figure 3 In this theoretical future for France dreamed up by Mr Hollande, nuclear is reduced to 60% of today’s output. The shortfall is made up by increasing wind by a factor of 6, solar by a factor of 12 and biomass by a factor of 4. Stinking coal is closed down all together. The total amount of electricity produced and consumed in this model is the same as January 2016 (Figure 1). The outcome perhaps doesn’t look too bad, but the extremes of surplus and deficit are amplified (Figure 4) and are difficult to impossible to manage in any rational way.

Figure 4 The pattern of net imports and exports to France under Mr Hollande’s advanced power systems model. See text for details.

Figure 4 shows the net export and import balance of the advanced electricity system. One feature is that France now has an import need on 18 days of the month instead of two using the existing system. The import requirement is down to periods of low wind output and DATA SHOWS that at these times France’s neighbours may also experience low wind conditions and may themselves be a bit short of power. Its unlikely therefore that France could depend on its neighbours to bail them out as France did for them for many decades using its antiquated nuclear technology.

It would, therefore, be prudent of France to expand its fleet of CCGTs. About 20 GWs additional dispatchable capacity would be required for use every now and then in winter time. But since the objective of the advanced system is to cut CO2 levels from the lowest levels anywhere in the OECD this would take emissions in the wrong direction.

Another option would be for France to ask the UK to borrow back some of its 20GW nuclear capacity but the UK would unlikely agree to this since it will need all the juice it can get its hands on at those times of low wind.

The best option for France therefore, would be demand management.

Demand Management using TGV Arbitrage

France is lucky to already have one of the most advanced electrified train networks (the TGV) in the world designed to transport the French all over Europe at tremendous speed and comfort. But this is old fashioned. The TGV network offers the ideal opportunity to manage the swings in advanced electricity supply. On the 18 days when France is short of power they could simply close down the transport network, including the Paris subway, bringing the advanced electricity system into balance. This could produce the temptation for people to fly or drive instead, producing CO2, so measures may have to be introduced to ban flying and driving on those windless days. This would also create employment opportunities for enforcement officers and more prisons to house travel ban offenders. The fact is windless days are ideal for cycling.

But the benefits don’t stop there. For much of the time France will be running a gigantic surplus of electricity, up to 40 GW offering great export opportunities. One snag though is that the surplus peaks are down to solar, and at those times all of France’s neighbours will be running a solar surplus too. Once again the TGV fleet may come to the rescue. Travelling could be made really cheap on sunny days around midday to encourage French to travel when the sun shines brightly either side of midday thereby maximising utilisation of clean solar power. Extra trains could be run at times of surplus.


The advanced French electricity system employs 4 times as much biomass as is used now in France. It seems likely that the Americans may begin to protest at their forests being felled to make electricity in Europe and so France should not rely on this particular foreign source.  The Brazilians are likely to be less picky. But once again, France is ideally placed with vast forests in the Alps that could be felled to produce low carbon power. These trees are rarely seen by anybody and simply get in the way of skiers. Without them the extent of off-piste skiing could be greatly expanded. Advanced energy systems appear to have no boundaries to their benefits.

Concluding Thoughts

While much of what I’ve written here is satirical nonsense, if France is indeed to consider closing down 40% of its serviceable nuclear fleet, then renting this to the UK becomes a serious proposition. Should it come to pass I would like a €5 million fee for providing the idea that will save France and the UK many billions at a time when money is scarce.


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92 Responses to An Energy Plan for France and the UK

  1. Peter Lang says:

    If France reduces nuclear’s share of generation, France’s CO2 emissions intensity from electricity will increase and cost of electricity will increase. France’s CO2 emissions intensity was 42g/kWh in 2014 according to RTE figures. It wouldn’t take much wind power and additional gas generation to double that. For what purpose? Who would benefit from higher electricity cost, higher GHG emissions and higher genuine pollution from fossil generators?

    • Alex Terrell says:

      They would have more electricity to export to far dirtier countries like Germany and the UK. So France’s gas + wind would to some extent replace German lignite and British gas.

      As long as they don’t reduce their nuclear, though.

      • Peter Lang says:

        But France’s emissions intensity of electricity would increase, substantially. And most of the comparisons use the emissions intensity of each country, e.g. IEA, EIA, etc.

    • robertok06 says:

      “If France reduces nuclear’s share of generation, France’s CO2 emissions intensity from electricity will increase and cost of electricity will increase.”


      No way, Peter!… repeat the mantra after me… “A rosy future is ahead of France, one where all nuclear reactors are stopped and a gazillion turbines and solar panels take their place; PV is already in grid parity, and turbines are the lowest-generation-cost source”.

      Truly yours,


  2. Euan:

    You say “a couple of MW for a few hours on the 20th and 21st”. I think this should be “a couple of GW for a few hours on the 20th and 21st”.

    A lot of the French nuclear fleet is beginning to age. Would 20GW of the existing nuclear fleet be available for the UK to purchase, or would a lot of it be closed down anyway?

    Otherwise, a commendable idea (if you could trust the French to deliver) and I thing you deserve a €5 million fee!

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Thanks Phil, fixed the giga. I don’t know about the serviceable state of French nukes. But it is the case that each power station has the reactor part and the steam generation part. I get the feeling that it is the latter that suffers worst wear and tare and should be more easy to re-furbish.

      Today the sun is shining and there is snow in the mountains:-) I’m to be away from my desk for most of the day.

      • Replacing SGs after about 30years is commonplace. It is usually the fatigue lifetime of other primary circuit components (the RPV) that determine the overall power station lifetime.

        The sun is shining here too, with a frost and no wind. I’m off outside too!

      • Willem Post says:

        “It would, therefore, be prudent of France to expand its fleet of CCGTs. About 20 GWs additional dispatch able capacity would be required for use every now and then in winter time.”

        The CCGTs could run on bio-synthetic fuel stored in tanks. The CCGTs would produce steady, high-quality, dispatachble, 24/7/365 energy, for peaking, filling-in and balancing, as needed, as substitution for nuclear energy.

        At the end of this article, I simulate a much more extreme condition, i.e., the US having no fossil fuel, by having multiples of the other energy sources.

        Essentially, the US is an island grid, and, in fact, so is Europe. It is our habits and thinking that are insular.

        “US Energy Mix Without Fossil Energy: A future US energy mix of the “electrified” economy would require its electrical generation of 4,066 TWh in 2013 to increase to 12,899 TWh by 2050, i.e., 3.2 times. Electricity to users would increase from 3,694 in 2013 to about 11,353 TWh in 2050, i.e., 3.1 times. As a result, solar would need to multiply (3084 + 1281)/21 = 207.9 times, wind 3219/168 = 19.2 times, nuclear 4700/789 = 6.0 times, and Other 615/401 = 1.5 times, if fossil fuels were not used. See above table.

        The mostly steady, high-quality, dispatachable, 24/7/365 energy of nuclear, plus CSP with storage, plus Other would be 36.4 + 23.9 + 4.8 = 65.1% in 2050, which would be about equal to the 66.1% of steady, high-quality, dispatachable, 24/7/365 fossil energy in 2013. The variable energy of wind, plus PV solar would be 25 + 9.9 = 34.9% in 2050, which is about where Germany will be in a few years. If Germany can manage 35% of variable, intermittent energy with its existing generators, connections to foreign grids, and minor additional energy storage systems, so can the US. See above table.”

      • robertok06 says:

        “I don’t know about the serviceable state of French nukes”

        I have visited several French reactors, and I had a colleague who had worked for years as a “serviceman” in the nuclear industry, mainly in France but also in Belgium and in one Chinese reactor (one of the early French-supplied ones).
        Both mine and my colleague’s impression (his more than impression, I’d say) is that the reactors are in extremely good shape.
        The only known problem is that some of the early ones have non-conformities in the concrete shielding, which is not as leak-tight as it should be (gas leaks, that is)… so as a containment in case of a major accident (core fusion and realease of gases within the containment dome of the PWR) they could leak some radioactive gases… but this has been identified many years ago… before Fukushima, and EDF has been implementing mitigation measures… filling the cracks, that is.
        These cracks are not structural, simply coming from the fact that back then the concrete was not poured in a single shot, like it is done today (took 3 full days and nights for the 2 european EPRs)… back then they were pouring concrete on top of already hard and settled concrete, and sometimes the interface of the two separate pourings were not perfect, depending on the conditions at time of pouring.
        The nuclear part of the reactors, RPV and steam generators, are very much under control… we should not forget that EDF’s reactors run at a rather low capacity factor, around 75%… not because of malfunctions or technical problems, but simply because their number and the installed power is a bit exaggerated… and many of them are taken off-line in summer, during periods of lower demand, July and August mainly.
        ONe of the main activities of my colleague was to enter inside the steam generators via a narrow manhole and perform the leak-tightness check on the hundreds and hundreds of little pipes inside of it, by using Foucalt current detectors or other techniques. Once one, or more, were found cracked or had their walls’ thickness reduced too much, he would simply cut it and exclude it from the network, and the steam generator would be basically unaffected.

        Just to make another example, the often mentioned reactors in Fessenheim, that the geniuses of the Energiewende would like to shut down immediately, have been heavily renewed a few years ago… EDF has spent hundreds of millions of Euros to add a couple of meters or so of reinforced concrete UNDER the reactor, because those were the very first one of the present fleet (the 900 MWe versions) with a reduced core-catcher. At the same time, EDF had their control system completely modernized and re-wired… making these two reactors the most up-to-date of the fleet!… wouldn’t make any sense at all to stop them…. just to show once more how far off the “nuclear experts” of GreenPiss are…

        Whatever the useless, and luckily not long-lasting, Hollande government will do now, and even if the escargot-eaters ( 🙂 ) will really stop 25% of their nuclear fleet, the French civil nuclear program will go down in history books as a marvel of technology and energy policy, which only China may be able to outdo in the near future…. we’ll see, hope they’ll do it right.


      • Willem post says:

        Tankerships often clean their tanks at sea. A group of whales, or whatever, might not find it too digestible.

        Regarding wind turbines and infrasound causing genetic damage, I mention in my article a mink farm in Denmark having over a thousand stil born, and deformed minks after a 3 MW Vestas wind turbine was erected near the farm.

  3. Alex says:

    There is indeed a lot to ridicule about France’s intentions with regard to power. A country which has been so spectacularly successful in reducing its carbon emissions looks for inspiration to countries which have been abject failures in this regard.

    Where France could really do more, and benefit, is in energy efficiency. In particular, replacing resistance heating with heat pumps, improving building insulation, and perhaps extending gas heating. It should be quite feasible to reduce demand by several GW, though the rise of electric cars may offset that.

    I did briefly discuss France with some Molten Salt Reactor advocates, and they pointed out that, based on the EPR experience, France is not going to build many more of these, if at all. And indeed, on a pure KWh basis, onshore wind is cheaper than a PWR. Until they get into load balancing problems, it may make sense to deploy more wind (and solar, which will be competitive at the retail price). But for nuclear, France is, long term, in a bit of a bind. I can’t see them buying Hualong 1 reactors.

    In the short term, they of course have to decide whether to spend – what, €500m-1billion per GW to extend their reactors by 20 years and uprate them by 10%. Of course, this is a no brainer: nuclear capacity at the price of gas capacity! An entrepreneurial British electricity company would take the opportunity: Fund the upgrade, take an equity stake, and import the electricity.

    In the long term, maybe France will be buying MSRs from the UK. Or they develop an alternative to the EPR.

    Of course, none of that helps with the 20% by 2020 renewables target. For that, the UK will just have to buy in lots of biomass and hope for a windy year.

    • Willem Post says:

      “And indeed, on a pure KWh basis, onshore wind is cheaper than a PWR.”


      The UK is planning to build a 1,200 MW wind turbine plant, 75 miles offshore, in the North Sea. It will have 174 wind turbines, at 6.9 MW each, 623-ft tall. The capital cost will be $5.429 billion, or $4,524,000/MW, excluding financing and amortization costs. The production would be about 1200 x 8760 x 0.45 = 4,730,400 MWh/y. The average output would be 0.45 x 1200 = 540 MW, but the minimum output could be near-zero MW, or up to about 1,100 MW.

      Energy will be sold at 20.3 c/kWh, whereas current wholesale prices are 5.1 c/kWh. The difference, totaling $6.1 billion over the 25-year life, will be charged to users as a surcharge on their electric bills.

      Europe HAS to resort to such expensive wind energy production systems, because it has few onshore areas with adequate wind, and these areas are too densely populated. The LCOE of such systems would significantly increase as high-cost RE energy is used for owning, operating and maintaining them, i.e., as high-cost RE replaces low-cost fossil energy.

      Excluded are the costs of generating capacity and transmission for peaking, filling-in and balancing the wind energy, which will become a larger component with more wind energy on the grid.

      • Alex says:

        I specifically said “onshore wind”, which in the UK can be built for a trike price of £80/MWh, compared for £92.50/MWh for a EPR.

        France has a fairly empty Atlantic coastal region, which could support a lot of onshore wind.

        It could be, that looking at figure 3 though, France is already close to the point where balancing becomes an issue and wind electricity (or the grid mix) tends to be wasted. They could get more with some fairly simple flexibility in heating demand.

        • Grant says:

          “I specifically said “onshore wind”, which in the UK can be built for a trike price of £80/MWh, compared for £92.50/MWh for a EPR.

          France has a fairly empty Atlantic coastal region, which could support a lot of onshore wind. ”

          The problem here is that France does indeed have space and the UK does not unless one is prepared to support the alleged backlog in housing development being enacted surrounding, or surrounded by, Disturbine Subsidy Developments.

          Should such a place come to exist I hope I will not be around to see it.

          • Willem Post says:


            I have spent some time in western France. It is more crowded than meets the eye from a TGV.

            Adding a few thousand, 500-ft tall, 3 MW wind turbines to the landscape would adversely affect the health of nearby (within a mile or more) humans and animals, and the infrasound would cause DNA damage to pregnant women and fetuses and pregnant animals and fetuses, as it did in Denmark.

            As a result, almost all Danish, large-unit wind turbines are built offshore, AND beyond the horizon, by law.


          • Euan Mearns says:

            @ Willem, so here I’m not sure if you are being serious or satirical about health consequences from large turbines. But I’d mention a recent letter in local press speculating that “noise” from large offshore wind turbines could be linked to the beaching of tens of pilot whales in the North Sea this year. Any opinion?

    • Grant says:


      You mention France possibly extending gas heating.

      As I recall, post COP21, the UK has announced that it intends to get rid of all coal powered generation (i.e. in effect all coal since the import and supply infrastructure will be gone) by 2025.

      9 years away.

      And if memory serves me correctly the target for seeing the back of Gas is 2030.

      14 years. The implication was not just gas fired electricity generation but domestic gas use as well and, presumably, industrial use where possible to swap to electricity.

      If I was a gas cooler or gas heating manufacturer I would be planning my last product releases about now. I think the public is, these days, brainwashed into expecting such devises to last no more that 10 years so the window of opportunity for one new product release just about exists. Doing that would also cover for the market in the event that the entire proposal was either delayed or dropped due to recognising its stupidity.

      Why, then, would France wish to extend its use of gas for heating?

      Furthermore exactly how are heat-pumps, should they be deployed in wide use, likely to be viable in older major cities with high population density?

      I am reminded of someone’s plan for using a water sourced heat pump concept to heat London from the Thames. Is the heat content of the Thames really so huge such an idea has any credibility?

      • Alex says:


        The long term objective has to be to move to electric heating, but how long is that going to take. I’ve looked in Germany and it’s completely uneconomic due to the high cost of electricity (we all know what’s responsible for that!). Even in the UK*, it’s going to take decades to phase out gas central heating. 2050 might be a good target for that.

        Until then, clean despatchable energy is in short supply. It would be better to use it to displace German lignite rather than gas central heating. Emissions would fall if the French replaced their resistance storage heaters with gas, and exported the saved nuclear power to Germany and other “less developed” countries.

        *In the UK, I am looking at a air-to-air heat pump to supplement a gas boiler. It could be run when needed during the day, but all the time on night time electricity.

      • Euan Mearns says:

        Grant, you need to get with it. Even although tenement blocks provide one of the most energy efficient means of living available (basically Granny living in the ground floor flat lights a candle that keeps the whole block warm as heat rises), in Utopia everyone is going to live in a 4 bedroom detached passive house with ground source heat pump and at least two electric cars.

    • robertok06 says:

      “And indeed, on a pure KWh basis, onshore wind is cheaper than a PWR. ”

      Completely wrong. On a baseload 24h/24, 365dd/y basis wind power is several times more expensive than nuclear… probably close to one full order of magnitude.

      In this particular case of France, the number are mind boggling: 410 TWh/year (nuclear production 2014)… i.e. 47 constant GW of electricity (averaged)… i.e. 15600x 3 MW turbines… which would generate too much power (at night or during low-demand weekends/holidays), which would be impossible to store even in the large hydro capacity of France.
      The solution, which is very well known already now, would be to simply discard the surplus wind electricity, and this would call for even more turbines to be installed.

      Knowing a bit the French people, and how they love their countryside, I’d bet anything that they will never accept that their countryside gets literally carpeted with 150 m-tall turbines… no way!

      Same reasoning for the even lower power density PV… that’s such a useless technology that I don’t even want to spend time on it… I just looked at the “fresh” monthly electricity report for neighbouring (and sunnier) Italy… and PV is just such a dismal performance that I feel pity for the poor Italian customers.


      • Alex says:


        I understand the numbers and the merits of base load and despatchability perfectly well. Hence my phrase: “On a pure KWh basis, onshore wind is cheaper than a PWR” is correct.

        It won’t be cheaper if you have a diesel generator next to it running part of the time,

        Likewise, roof top PV is in many countries, cheaper, on a pure KWh basis, than the retail price of electricity. That creates a problem for utilities who are providing not only electricity, but a guarantee of supply, but who none the less lose revenue. Expect to see reduced KWh charges and increased connection charges in response.

        • robertok06 says:

          “That creates a problem for utilities who are providing not only electricity, but a guarantee of supply, but who none the less lose revenue.”

          No… the problem you mention with falling revenues for the utilities takes place only where and when PV is HEAVILY incentivized, once the incentives fall below some value (depending on the country and the type of incentives) the installation rate of PV falls to the floor… approaching zero.

          The utilities have a hard time only because some genius has decided that PV and wind must pass in front of, and be preferred to, any other kind of technology, regardless of any other parameter or criterion.
          The market value of the average MWh is nowadays of the order of 40 Euros (in Europe)… how many big PV power station do you think would be built without any form of incentive or market advantage? …

          • Alex says:

            At present “raw” (ie no subsidies, forgetting about storage) PV from roof tops is cheaper than retail prices across most of Australia and southern Europe (due to the climate) and in Germany (due in part to the high prices of electricity).

            The reason is not the whole sale price (usually less than 5p/KWh), but the infrastructure which gives a typical retail price of about 15p/KWh.

            There is already an issue starting in Australia where some rich people can afford to go off grid, which will leave the remaining poorer people to cover the grid fixed costs.

          • robertok06 says:


            “PV from roof tops is cheaper than retail prices across most of Australia and southern Europe (due to the climate) and in Germany (due in part to the high prices of electricity).”

            You may be right for Australia, especially in remote areas and for off-the-grid installations… but you are definitely wrong concerning southern Europe. Italy since the stop to “incentives” in mid 2013 (a total of 18.5 GWp installed basically in 5-6 years… with more than 9.5 during 2011 alone) the installation rate has fallen, in 2015, to less than 300 MWp.
            The average domestic kWh costs 22 cEuro, but only for very low consumption (less than 2700 kWh/year) and for “protected” low-income users.

            Sunshine comes for free, that’s the green mantra… but so do nights and winter months… and even in a southern European country with lots of sunshine like Italy, this is the dismal performance of almost 19 GWp in January… look at this:


            …. tables on page 28: 1012 GWh over 31×24 hours… i.e. an average capacity factor of 7.2%!!!….
            Look now pages 10 and 11: they show the consumption curves during the day of peak power demand. Note the uselessness of the trio wind+PV+geothermal (Italy has one of the biggest deep geothermal power base in the entire world, working basically baseload)… 4.8% coverage of peak power demand at 6:00 pm.
            See also how anti-nuclear Italy is basically the best friend of nuclear France (graph on page 15 and data on the tables… 43.4 TWh during 2015!!… directly from France or via Switzerland with an overcost… how smart is that?). Italians in effect use the equivalent of 4 920 MWe French reactors, like those in the power station at Tricastin.

            Spain is basically in the same situation as Italy since several years now.
            The only ones who continue gung-ho-straight-full-steam-ahead-no-matter-what towards the edge of the energy cliff are our friends the Germans… I sincerely hope for them (and for the whole of Europe, since Germany is the engine of economic development in the continent) that they are right and I am wrong… but the more time goes on and new data become available the more I see that I am right.

            I’ve been saying this for years now: for big industrialized countries it is physically impossible to replace conventional baseload thermal power stations using intermittent renewables… but people keep on telling me that I am simply a pro-nuclear troll… to which I reply “better troll than dumb”.


        • @Alex

          A perusal of the most recent Fraunhofer report into renewables in Germany will show clearly that solar has been far more expensive to build and takes far more subsidy and generates far less revenue than either wind or biomass.

          Solar is nowhere near grid parity even with its renewable peers.

          • Alex says:

            The Frauenhofer Institute is massively biased in favour of renewables and against nuclear, though they usually provide interesting data. That particular presentation gives no indication of current solar prices.

            But my statement is based on the purchase price of solar modules based on 2014/15 prices and their expected generation. As said, it’s cheaper on a pure KWh basis than retail electricity prices up to fairly high costs of capital (up to 10%) in southern Europe and Germany. (You need a cost of capital below about 5% in England)

            That’s just a summation of facts. It’s not to deny that solar has big problems in grid integration. Whether solar is subsidised or not, it creates grid integration problems, the cost of which are borne by the grid as a whole.

          • gweberbv says:


            large scale PV can be installed with a guaranteed feed-in tariff around 80 Euros/MWh (in Central Europe, in India a recent auchtion resulted in 60 Euros/MWh if I remeber correctly). This in in the same ballpark as onshore wind.

            But you can learn from the Frauenhofer document that PV power earns more on the wholesale market than wind (because it tends to be generated coincident with demand peaks, while wind is completely uncorrelated). Thus, if you are going to decide what you want to build tomorrow, there is o clear indication that onshore wind should be prefered compared to PV (in Central Europe).

            Of course, this is just a snapshot in time. If one would add another 40 GW PV capacity to the German grid, you won’t get a single penny for this power on the wholesale market. And in Finnland there is simply not enough insolation to make PV cheaper than wind.

        • @ Alex

          So we have the data from a pro renewable organisation… And while prices are not available, installation costs and revenue generation are given in the presentation and both are far, far worse than for wind and biomass. The scale of the disparity is considerable and means that solar is untenable even after the recent cost declines.

  4. Graeme No.3 says:

    I don’t think Hollande understands satirical nonsense. With impeccable french logic he has convinced himself that wind turbines (and associated backup) will not produce emissions. Cameron however has been swallowing it for over 5 years, but the idea of UK renting surplus french nuclear is, I’m afraid, beyond him.
    Please file your plan under Blue Parrot electricity.

  5. Javier says:

    Renting the nuclear fleet to the UK is an absolutely unacceptable proposition for France. You are ignoring the issue of perceived risk on the wake of Fukushima. The French people would never accept that risk to produce electricity for the UK.

    • Grant says:

      Some time last week I had the same thought as Euan has just expressed .

      What Javier has pointed out is clearly a problem although the cross-Manche interconnect seems to have been working at around a constant 100% capacity flow to the UK for the past two years at least. Not all of that could be for onward transmission to Eire.

      One solution to the “ownership” of the risk would be to consider what assets are viable along the Channel coast. If suitable we might do some sort of a Lease deal to take temporary sovereignty over a suitable area of landmass to include the assets and a buffer zone in case a tsunami thunders down the channel at some point. I have in mind a similar arrangement to that which used to exist with Hong Kong.

      I had considered a potential territory exchange – perhaps for part of the UK that has plenty of wind and a political aversion to nuclear.

      However I don’t know whether Euan speaks French and the idea of handing over the remains of most of the North Sea Oil industry may not yet be a sensible deal to broker.

      Still, provided we could find some UK leaders with a backbone or two, the attraction of handing over the “Calais” problem might just be enough to persuade Hollande that there could be some merit in the idea ….


    • robertok06 says:

      “The French people would never accept that risk to produce electricity for the UK.”

      I live in france since a long time, and I still have to meet a french person who really is afraid/scared of nuclear… most of them simply repeat the mantra they hear day in day out on TV and the media… about Fukushima’s “terribly radioactive rice” (in Japan is sold since 2012, i.e. only the 2011 production, the year of the accident, didn( meet the below 100 Bq/kg criterion”… or about the “Chernobyl cloud” which even in the highest contamination areas of France (southern Alps and northern Corsica) never reached even remotely the kind of dose received by the average Swiss citizen due to natural background (more than 5 mSv/year)…

      Let’s wait a few years until the French people find out that the kWh from wind and PV is at least 3x more expensive than the nuclear one, and then we”ll see how quickly the greens have to look for a safe heaven to hide…

    • euanmearns says:

      Northern France is really a part of England no matter which way you look at it. History not my strong point, but Normans conquered England so England is part of France and vice versa. We are all part of one gigantic European family now anyway. But it would make sense for England to have troops there to protect their assets.

      I’m leaning towards Scotland renting Sweden’s reactors. A Grade A scam would be for the EU to fund a 4 GW inter connector Scotland-Denmark so that we could export our vast wave resource to Germany and when it doesn’t work we simply decide to import Swedish nuclear instead. Sweden, of course has vast amounts of biomass.

      • Javier says:

        Not that I dispute the ties of the British with the Europeans, but somehow that doesn’t fit well into the Brexit narrative so popular these days. No doubt the British would look favorably at taking over some French lands, but last time that happened there was a little thing called Hundred Years War. And French are notoriously unforgetting.

        My opinion after looking at international relations evolution since the big financial crisis is that on a global scale international ties are on average weakening, not strengthening, and I don’t see that trend changing in a foreseeable future. As things become more difficult countries are pulling apart. The Schengen accord is quickly becoming untenable on the wake of the migrant crisis, with countries rushing to introduce border controls to avoid being the cul de sac of the migratory wave.

        Your solution looks good on paper, but is undoable. The French are happy to sell their electricity, but if they decide to dismantle their nuclear plants they will not rent/sell them to another country no matter how good business it would be, or how much that country has become dependent on that electricity. It is an example of the foolishness of choosing to become dependent on essential inputs from other countries.

  6. Grant says:


    I think your observations about cycling on windless days are valid BUT, as with cars, there seems to be a tendency to shift towards electrification for 2 wheeled vehicles.

    Demand management philosophy suggests that the charged batteries in cars (and therefore why not all devices with storage capabilities?) can be used to offset the grid deficit when required.

    That would, of course, be a great excuse for a “working from home day” when the electricity feed fails provided the supply of pigeons was great enough and the bosses had large enough coops.

    An alternative plan, and one that might generally assist a nation’s fitness, would be to deploy the bicycle pedal concept as a mandated emergency power device for other vehicles – including the TGV.

    I think the public might accept that as long as the were no fees for enjoying the “gym facilities” that had been made available to them.

    • Euanmearns says:

      I can put out about 100 W for about 15 minutes before my heart monitor starts to go crazy and demand I take on board liquids with anti oxidants – Rioja I find to be the best solution.

      This also worth a look

      • Grant says:


        That article made some points that I have been making for some years.

        I made the error of going through far too many of the comments. Sometimes threads appear to be filled with posts made by people living on Fantasy Island. If not there then somewhere far removed from the reality of most of the world and the dynamics of how things usually develop and evolve whether we like them or not.

        Still, in the spirit of social responsibility I am considering buying one of those electron bike thingies so that when the supply from the grid fails I can pedal for more than 15 minutes in order to stay on line.

        That would be about as close as I could get to making things work until the new fangled tech for running low power devices on electricity produced from radio waves goes mainstream.

  7. James Arathoon says:


    I raised a similar possibility in Jan 2014 on the IET forums (also in a tongue in cheek way)

    Noting that there is around 16GW of French Nuclear installed on the north coast of France.

    The fact that it has not been picked up by EDF when I have raised the same idea at meetings where very senior EDF executives have been present is totally beyond me.

    At one IET meeting I asked the question of a senior EDF executive and he deliberately evaded my question and basically refused to answer it. The question was comprehensible because I was sat next to some young EDF engineers and they thought it a good idea worth raising.

    Such is life. Keep up the good work.


    • Euanmearns says:

      Interesting James! I hereby agree to share with you 5% of my €5 million fee – hope that doesn’t sound stingy. Despite the light hearted nature of this post, the UK IS closing down its base load capacity and France appears to want to follow a course of scrapping its national treasure.

    • David McCrindle says:

      I think your EDF senior executive may be being political. He will be well aware that they already do this via the existing interconnectors and may not want the greens to be making political capital out of the french fission product inventory increasing just so that we can watch Coronation St.

      I remember talking to an EDF engineer (relatively junior) about the time they were completing the original PWR fleet and suggesting that they would be making money by selling electricity. He was scathing as he thought that being a net exporter of electricity was stupid. Use your electricity to make added value products and export them – building better ski-lifts and selling expensive lift passes (plus hotel beds and tartiflette) to middle class germans was a better idea.

  8. gweberbv says:


    what you are asking for (let’s ignore the TGV part) is already happening. See here (you already know it, I suppose):
    Interconnector capacity to France is increased from 2 GW to 5.4 GW. To that you might add the 1 GW to Belgium, if you like. By the time these interconnectors are available, 5 French NPPs will be mainly working to supply UK demand (which of course not excludes that the flow of power might be reversed under special circumstances).

    With regard to demand management: France is in a very good position to utilize the heating market for that purpose. A building that is heated by electricity offers a very cheap form of energy storage. Once it is overheated by maybe one degree or two, it can reduce heating for hours or days (depending on the quality of the insulation). But as long as there is no real need for such measures (due to overcapacity of power plants), it will not happen.

  9. Ikemeister says:

    Top notch satire I must say! Unfortunately it would go whizzing right over the head of Mr Hollande. Then again he just has to glance over at his neighbour’s place and observe how well that’s going.

  10. GeoffM says:

    I’m very un-confident about these ground- and air-source heat pump systems. In the Scottish Highlands in the local press people are forever complaining about the huge cost of running these things and about how cold their homes are. And the installation costs are eye-watering. I’m guessing that the council chiefs are not rushing out to fit them in their own homes.

    I have had electric storage heaters for 10 years and they’re good, but not perfect admittedly.

    • garethbeer says:

      Heat pumps are heavily promoted down-under in particular NZ as 3/4/5 times efficient 1cent of power in 5 cent of heat out. Reality is, once the latent air temp drops below 7c (or there-abouts) the efficiency drops of a cliff, and the much publicised Money-saving virtues last like a snow ball in hell!
      Not to mention the shutting down to de-frost, with gusts of cool air running about your feet, and then the bills oh the bills – might as well use residence heating!
      Air to air in our climate are just fridges jammed in reverse…

    • JerryC says:

      An air-source heat pump is, of course, an air conditioner in reverse. Which is why they make a lot more economic sense in places where you need an air conditioner anyway. In a place like Scotland where you don’t need air conditioning and have periods of very cold weather, air-source heat pumps are not very good fit.

  11. wawa says:

    I’m very happy that strangers think that nuclear power is the best choice.
    most of french people are dreaming in solar and wind.

    I’m very tired to explain that when you have no money, the best thing to do is to use something ever payed and running quite well instead of to buy very expensive and unrunning “green crap” from other country.

    a reading of “le secret de maitre cornille” is very usefull : steam is always works, not wind

    • Euan Mearns says:

      I’m very tired to explain that when you have no money

      The EU needs to begin to ask why this is the case. Its a very, very difficult question to answer. I have for a long time admired the Germans for making things that last and concluded that this was why they got so rich. Depreciation of assets is a variable normally excluded from national accounting.

  12. John Kunka says:

    I’m not surprised they rely so much on nuclear. We had a holiday in Provence a couple of years ago and I was surprised that there was hardly a windmill or a solar panel in sight despite the abundant supply of both sunshine and wind! I concluded that it must be because the local population had an abundant supply of cheap nuclear energy. It will be hard to wean them off it is my guess.

    • garethbeer says:

      Sorry for the sarc, but yes it’s hard to imagine the public wanting reliable energy when you want it not just when there’s wind or direct sunlight on your panels…

      • robertok06 says:

        … so?… what is your opinion of the wonderful Energiewende?… why do the german neighbours of nuclear france keep on doing it, unperturbed? Masochism at a country level maybe?… they keep on saying that they are happy with their carpet of almost 40 GWp… I mean… FORTY GWp!… it is 250 km2 of panels!… a 12-m wide road more than 20 thousand km long, half the earth circumference, covered with panels… it is almost mind boggling… especially when one considers that right now, and until tomorrow morning at 9-10 o’clock, they will produce exactly ZERO watts of power.
        It is a classic example of the power of the weapons of mass distraction in the hands of skilled political groups… scary uh?

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Hi John,

      We had a holiday in Bavaria a couple of years ago, saw only 1 turbine, despite driving extensively round the Alps, but most roofs were covered in PV, which I don’t find to be an eye sore and makes more sense the further S you go.

      But as you know, the Howe of the Mearns and Buchan are covered in turbines. They only bother me when I drive through. The real cost comes via financial penalty to consumers and reduced efficiency of the economy.


  13. Leo Smith says:

    Euan. Unlike the UK, France reports pumped storage when it is being pumped, not when its generating. Just as UK pumped inputs become merely additional demand, Frances pumped outputs are added to its ‘hydro’

    Also beware the import export figures. Whilst the total import export figures are probably correct, the actual figures per country are reported by an algorithm that often blows up spectacularly.

    What is going on, in reality, in terms of a nations energy is of little consequence to politicians, who are only interested in perceptions, electability, and their personal pension.

    Hollande start from a perspective that ‘Green is God’, and simply gets experts to cherry pick or construct the data that seems to support this.

  14. Euan Mearns says:


    National Grid to pay customers to use excess power

    National Grid will pay business customers to use more energy at times of excess wind generation, under a new system developed by demand response aggregator Flexitricity.

    • Richard says:

      .. that on top of demand response programmes. Instead of subsidising solar and wind energy the money should be spend on developing efficient energy storage systems.

      Paying clients to use excess power and paying companies to switch off (demand response) are just ways to fix the problem created by solar and wind renewables.

      The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the subsidies make the solar and wind renewable energy cheaper than the more reliable energy sources (coal, nuclear etc…). Thus variability of supply is now a permanent feature of the energy market. Large energy companies are starting to “break” as the supply variability makes it increasingly difficult to make reliable projections. Ironically energy demand is now more stable than energy supply.

      • guber says:

        Well, so far a lot of effort was done in the grids to shift consumption to nights and other low demand periods to make the grid as suitable as possible to basload power plants. demandside-Management is in principle nothing else, just with flexible times, but also with prediction of times,and prediction of prices, if done well.
        Electrification of thermal and traffic sector will bring in a lot of shiftable loads.
        But that’s not the topic here.

    • robertok06 says:

      “In turn, the grid can increase the amount of electricity distributed to homes from clean, renewable energy sources.”

      These “green” schemes must come out of very, veeeery bright minds indeed!… I thought that the whole rationale for starting and keeping on doing this crazy “decarbonization of electricity production” via intermittent sources was to REDUCE the production from fossil fuels (and in the land of Goethe also from arch-enemy nuclear)… but I see that now they don’t care anymore…as per text highlighted here above they simply want to use all of the wind production (so they can pocket a maximum of money) and leave the fossil fuel/nuclear running as high as possible…i.e. without constraints for emissions.

      The stupidity of such a measure is appalling.

    • gweberbv says:

      This is nothing else than flexible electricity prices. With the complication that the price a consumer has to pay to his supplier is lowered by a third party -> National Grid. Requiring the suppliers to offer flexible rates should have the same effect.

  15. robertok06 says:


    Concerning your figure 2… I have a hard time believing that Italy has exported over more than 1/2 of the month of January towards France… doesn’t make any sense at all.

    If I check on ENTSO-E’s “cross-border physical flow” data for example on 17/1, I get France exporting towards Italy 24h/24.

    What’s going on?

  16. robertok06 says:

    Congrats to our british readers… a world first:

    Question: what does this mean?…

    “will qualify for a 1.5 ROC rate under the UK renewable obligation scheme”

    …. once translated into pounds/MWh?… thanks.

    • Mark says:

      The valuation is slightly complicated, but in round terms 1 ROC is currently worth about £40-45. These are in addition to the value of the electricity – so 1 MWh earns the wholesale value (say £40/MWh) plus 1.5 ROCs (approx £60) – a total of £100 for each MWh generated.

      • Stuart Brown says:

        Hmm – isn’t that the price the traditional generators are obliged to pay into the pot – £44.33/MWh fixed buy out price? As opposed to what the renewable generator gets out of it, which can vary?

    • Stuart Brown says:

      Well, I thought I should know since I’m in the UK, but then I started reading…

      Short answer is £19.35/MWh if I understood it correctly. I’m no expert but no-one else answered. I’m sure if I got it wrong someone will tell me! It’s supposed to be a market so the price paid depends on the amount of money in the pot derived from suppliers who can’t generate more than 29% of their power from renewables.

      However, PV schemes bigger than 5MWp are no longer allowed to claim ROCs as I understood it, and the whole business is moving toward Contracts for Difference to guarantee strike prices for future generation. So I don’t see how ROCs come into it.

      but I got the rate I quoted you from Wikipedia here (1.29p/kWh effective price per unit)

    • robertok06 says:

      @mark, @stuart brown

      Thanks to both! 🙂

  17. Alex says:

    There was some discussion elsewhere about EDF having to spend €100 billion for the life extension and uprating of all their nuclear plants. It turns out this includes maintenance over the 20 years, and rather than being a “shocking figure”, comes out to about 1c/KWh.

    That probably makes the price of electricity from refurbished nuclear at 3c/KWh, compared to, at a guess, 20-30c/KWh for despatchable renewables.

    Given France (or at least, the so called Greens in Government) wants to reduce nulcear power, this article makes a lot of sense.

    So being a bit more specific- – is a 5.4GW power station, which, without the upgrade, will probbaly start ot go off line in 2020. So how about a British company (EDF UK Limited, or a pension fund?) buys it for a token sum, spends the €10 billion for the upgrade, and perhaps €2 billion for new HVDC lines. If the rules require it – maybe France will even lease the soveriegnty of the land to the UK (as they do with the embassy).

    The new owner would continue to pay in to the French decomissioning fund, so there would be no change in decomissioning plans.

    – Britain then gets its’ objective with 5.4GW of clean power till 2040.
    – The French greens then get their objective of making room for expensive renewables and increasing the price of electricity to Frecn hconsumers
    – EDF (if it’s sold to someone else for say €2 billion, and the upgrade cost – without maintenance – is €5 billion) gets a €7 billion to its balance sheet.
    Seems too good to happen.

    • robertok06 says:

      “The French greens then get their objective of making room for expensive renewables and increasing the price of electricity to Frecn hconsumers”

      Your proposition will never work… the french greens (like any other greens in Europe or elsewhere) simply want all forms of nuclear power eradicated from the planet… ZIP!… gone!… no more!… they are afraid of the possible accidents, of the nasty waste that escapes from underground and goes around killing people.
      Most of all they don’t care at all about the costs… it is never their money… if it gets too expensive 5it definitely will!) then their reply will be “good!… so consumption goes down”…

      No rational discourse based on data and scientific analysis will EVER convince them otherwise… it’s a mission impossible… they don’t get it, it’s Dunning-Kruger syndrome all over the place.

      The only way out of this for France would be, at next year’s elections, that the center-right elects a new president in place of Hollande… but I’m not sure about that… the center-right is in disarray now, and the right (Front National) will never make it past the first round.

      So, let’s start getting used, people of Europe, to a future when nuclear will slowly disappear and the fan-ta-stic world of intermittent renewables will dictate the pace of our lives. 🙁


      • sod says:

        “So, let’s start getting used, people of Europe, to a future when nuclear will slowly disappear and the fan-ta-stic world of intermittent renewables will dictate the pace of our lives.”

        A truly terrible vision. Just imagine, the UK and France get a grid stability that is as bad as in Germany!

        • Richard says:

          It would be interesting if such analysis were to take into account cross border energy transfers between say France and Germany.

          In any case I wonder what the picture will be like when Germany has closed all its nuclear power stations in 2022?

          • robertok06 says:

            “In any case I wonder what the picture will be like when Germany has closed all its nuclear power stations in 2022?”

            No problem, their grid will be as stable as now…. since their coal and lignite power station will keep on burning coal… cough!… cough!… full blast, like they do now… so, in winter, when the ridiculous 40 GWp of german PV generate 5-6 GWe at peak, during 1-2 hours around noon, there will be no noticeable instability when a large cloud will set in … who cares about PVin Germany during 4 full months, Nov to Feb?… it is an “also ran” electricity source… at the very end of the list.

            Concerning the bigger instabilities coming from wind, especially off-shore now that their wind farms in the north and baltic sea start producing… no problem either… Germany has the good habit of sending this to neighbouring countries… have you have heard of Poland and Czech republic complaining about the fact that they are fed up with balancing the german network?…

            Germany is rich and powerful, and commaning in EU quarters… whatever they do and decide is or becomes “the law”, right or wrong… just look at the VW diesel emission scandal in the US (and elsewhere too)… what happened a couple of weeks ago?… the EU bureacracy has simply decided to more than double the NOx limits… can you imagine what would have happened if instead it was Renault, or Fiat who’d screwed the whole thing up?… the German ministers would be storming the EU parliament to oblige the culprits to abide by the law… no doubling of the limits.

            Germany is going to be fine no matter what, don’t worry.

          • gweberbv says:


            to a certain extent Roberto is right. Owners of fossil fuel fired plants are now just trying to survive the six lean years before the last 11 GW of nuclear capacity in Germany is shut down. Of course, they will not get the whole cake as offshore wind farms with capacity factors near 50% are ramped up. But the shutdown of the nuclear reactors will for sure not be ‘carbon neutral’.

            However, what he is telling about Czech and Poland is just nonesense. The so-called loop currents are an artefact created by a dumb regulation (Austria can buy more power in Germany than there is interconnector capacity available). This is not connected to the handling of renewable energy production.

          • robertok06 says:


            “However, what he is telling about Czech and Poland is just nonesense. The so-called loop currents are an artefact created by a dumb regulation (Austria can buy more power in Germany than there is interconnector capacity available). This is not connected to the handling of renewable energy production.”

            Oh really???…nonsense???

            This is not the article I was looking for…


            … but it says something about this problem, which can and will get worse as the amount of intermittent renewable sources will increase. Stay tuned.


          • robertok06 says:

            Still on the supposed “nonsense” about theproblems cause by uncontrolled (and uncontrollable) German export of intermittent REN to neighbouring countries… that is more like what I remember I read:


            Comments anyone?

          • gweberbv says:


            this two articles are failing to address the real issue: That German and Austrian grids are merged into a ‘common bidding zone’. What is a common bidding zone? An area where electricity can be traded WITHOUT making sure each time that there is the enough transmission capacity for this exchange of power.

            What happens when there is a lot of wind power in (the northern part of) the German grid? Prices drop to near zero. Not only in the neighbourhood of the wind farms, BUT ALSO for Austrian customers. As a result dispatchable capacity in Austria (and also the southern part of Germany) are ramped down because it is cheaper to buy the wind power coming in with basicly zero cost.

            But as market player do not need to care about the physical availability of sufficient transmission lines, the grid operators have to balance the whole stuff (with the costs being put on the shoulders of the final customers, not the power traders that are causing the problem). And of course not only the grid in Germany and Austria is affected, but also our neighbours in the east as their grids are acting involuntarily as an additional interconnector between Germany and Austria.

            Once you cancel the common bidding zone and require the power traders to aquire also the necessar transmission capacity for their purchases of power from distant regions, the problem is solved. Another solution is to build enough transmission lines, so that the fiction of a copper plate with infinite transmission capacity that is the basis of any common bidding zone is again fulfilled. As it was the case by the time Germany and Austria were merged to a common bidding zone.

            Here you can find a statement by the Czech grid operator that is really adressing the issue:

            Or to make it short: “According to Bundesnetzagentur’s analysis, physical capacity at the Austrian-German border is expected to remain at 5.5 GW, but trade could exceed 10 GW if the bidding zone is not split.”

            Just an example of bad regulation or better to say regulation not keeping up with reality. Not a problem of wind or solar production per se.

        • robertok06 says:

          Another urban legend!… Yeah!…

          Grid stability in France… actually grid-instability relative to Germany’s grid stability has, guess what?… NOTHING to do with the fact that France uses “n” and Grmany uses “green”… actually it uses overwhelmingly coal and lignite… but that’s another story, right?… cough!… cough!…

          … as I was saying, the relatively high grid instability of France vs Germany is simply due to environmental reasons: France has the Alps, the Massif Central, and the Pirenees… and has a much bigger area of Gremany, which is relatively flat, more densely populated (and therefore less wooded areas prone to have trees falling on HV lines).

          France’s nuclear fleet has an extremely good availability rate, which has nothing to add to the stability of the grid.

          Next urban legend to debunk about nuclear? 🙂

          • sod says:

            “… as I was saying, the relatively high grid instability of France vs Germany is simply due to environmental reasons: France has the Alps, the Massif Central, and the Pirenees… and has a much bigger area of Gremany, which is relatively flat, more densely populated (and therefore less wooded areas prone to have trees falling on HV lines).”

            So grid stability is only influenced by mountains and forests and not at all by the source of electricity?

            It is funny, as the majority of posts here mention the term “blackout” in connection to alternative power sources.

            The problem with your explanation is, that Germany is IMPROVING grid stability while it is increasing the share of renewables.

            while other countries are getting worse effects:


            see also this table here:


          • robertok06 says:


            “so grid stability is only influenced by mountains and forests and not at all by the source of electricity?”

            In France yes, that’s definitely the case, since the RECORDED and KNOWN number of unscheduled scrams of the 58 nuclear babies is waaaaay too low to justify the number of instability events.
            So, I am NOT disputing the fact that Germany’s network is more stable than France’s of Italy’s or UK’s or probably also other countries, I am simply saying that the the rate in France is NOT dictated by the source which generates 75% of its electricity…neither the other source which balances everything and is responsible for a good 10% more, hydro.
            These are FACTS not my opinions.

            “It is funny, as the majority of posts here mention the term “blackout” in connection to alternative power sources.”

            It is even funnier that you don’t get the simple fact that the majority of the posts look into THE FUTURE, when the amount of intermittent and therefore inherently unreliable and unpredicatable sources will grow.
            It is also funnier that you still don’t get the fact that Germany’s grid stability and reliability now is possible because you still keep your… cough!… cough!… sorry… tens of GW of coal and lignite churning out full blast hundreds of GWh/day… so the intermittency and related network glitches are hidden by them… by once nuclear and (hopefully) coal and lignite will be off for good (your plans, not mine) then things will forcefully be different, because you won’t be able to mask the instabilities.

            Funny uh?


      • Alex says:

        Agree – like this who poshole posting – unlikely.

        The only way it could happen is if the Green party is not in Government, but no one can get a majority to repeal the law. Selling, rather than shutting, Gravelines may get round the law to everyone’s satisfaction.

        More likely – this being France – they’ll just ignore the law.

  18. guber says:

    @euan – to get further with this Idea, if it was not just a joke, it would beneccesary to adopt todays demand side management from maximising baseload to maximasing e.g. daytime photovoltaic use in your design, and to switch the use of Hydro, Gas and coal units from adopting to 60 GW nuclear baseload and demand adopted to this baseload to a operation adopted to wind+solar+nuclear generation (40 GW), and also adopt nuclear generation within its limited capabilities for adoption to adopt to residual demand.
    Then you could see more.
    About cross border electricity flow: Agora uses measured flows as far as I can see, showing a constant power flow from germany to france in January beside 3 or 4 days where (also) reverse flow happened. As soon as it is getting warmer and demand in france is smaller flow will go from france to germany.

  19. robertok06 says:

    “Agora uses measured flows as far as I can see, showing a constant power flow from germany to france in January beside 3 or 4 days where (also) reverse flow happened.”

    France in January has been a NET EXPORTER of electricity.
    Germany sends electricity to France because of 2 reasons related to each other:

    1) There’s been a lot of wind and especially off-shore wind production (PV is a joke in January in Gremany, and always will be, unless some green genius finds a way of changing the inclination of the axis of the earth)

    2) The geniuses behind the Energiewende keep on churning out GWh/day of unnecessary coal and lignite electricity while there is a surplus of wind power… i.e. they don’t care at all about killing 10-30 germans/day (source The Lancet, or EXterne study) and keep their coal/lignite power station full blast or almost.

    The electricity you mention simply transits through France, to end up in other countries. Noticeable is the fact that one of the biggest importers of dirty German electricity is Austria, the country who’s suing the UK over the contract for difference for the clean nuclear power of Hinkley Point C… just to show the level of absurdity of greenthink.

    France in 2015 has been the biggest electricity exporter in Europe.

    • gweberbv says:

      Here are some instructive illustrations on that matter:

      • robertok06 says:

        Thanks!>.. I had forgotten about this web page… if you choose the “europe” graph and move the cursor on the light blue french part, you’ll see that in 2015f france has exported to Germany 12.1 TWh, and imported from Germany 1.4 TWh… which clears a bit the idea about this issue, doesn’t it? 🙂


        • gweberbv says:

          It also clearifies who really was the biggest electricity exporter in 2015. (But on might argue that at current price levels it lies little merit in being a top-notch energy producer anyways. Better to do it the Italian way.)

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