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The French Interconnectors

March 24, 2021

By Paul Homewood




Since yesterday, the UK has been importing up to nearly 3GW of power via the French interconnectors. The question is though, where does the electricity come from?

Last month, for instance, gas, coal and biomass averaged 4.2GW, about 9% of France’s generation:





Without UK demand, it is not unreasonable to suppose that gas generation would have been much lower. After all, you don’t turn down wind or nuclear power just like that. Moreover, according to the Gridwatch website, gas generation in France did not fall below 2.6GW last month. (There were times as well when the UK was supplying France). Even in the early hours of the morning, when the interconnector is quiet, gas was still producing at 6GW yesterday:



It makes a nonsense of official claims that any electricity imported is low carbon.

Of course, the European power market is a complex one, with France both importing and exporting. France, for instance, both exports power to and imports from Germany, in order to balance fluctuations in wind and solar power there. Italy imports about a tenth of its electricity from France, to function alongside its predominantly gas grid. Switzerland also relies somewhat on French power.

Spain also imports from and exports to France to balance its renewable output.



All of these other countries are heavily dependent on French nuclear power, which is effectively holding the grid together. Which raises the question, what will they do when France begins shutting down its nuclear plants as planned?

  1. March 24, 2021 11:58 am

    Would/Could the EU and President Macaroon be tempted to deny our imported power?

    • March 24, 2021 1:43 pm

      Would they want a reputation as unreliable suppliers, which might put off other customers?

      • March 24, 2021 4:36 pm

        Look at the vaccine fiasco, so yes the EU would certainly not care about being unreliable suppliers as long as it protected ‘the project”

        Don’t forget the UK was blackmailed in December to hand over our fish or the interconnectors would be shut down. Macron then followed that up by saying they would use the same tactics in 5 years time when fish quotas are due to be renegotiated.

        So we quickly need to be much less reliant on European energy supplies which will include Russian gas

      • March 24, 2021 4:51 pm

        Pres. Macaroni is typical of the anglosaxonophobic French political leaders.
        Perhaps Agincourt and so many other recollections explain?

        In my experience the French people are fine-delightiful.

      • dave permalink
        March 25, 2021 9:14 am

        “Perhaps Agincourt…”

        A visitor to the office of Vichy Prime Minister Laval, during WW2, noticed that the only wall decoration was a large painting of the Battle of Agincourt.
        Upon enquiry, Laval simply replied, “To remind me who my enemy is.”

  2. MikeHig permalink
    March 24, 2021 12:30 pm

    When it comes to those planned plant closures, it’s worth applying the old adage about actions speaking louder than words. The whole French nuclear fleet (bar one plant, the oldest at Fessenheim) is undergoing a massive programme of refurbishment called the “Grand Carenage”. It’s going to cost about €1 billion per plant and includes replacement of some major components as well as enhancement of emergency facilities (back-up diesels, etc).
    This work will extend the working lives of the plants considerably, to at least 50 years. They wouldn’t be making such a huge investment if there was a real prospect of plants being closed within a few years.
    As a side-note, EdF have done a lot of work to make their plants more flexible: most of them can load follow quite fast, if required.

  3. JimW permalink
    March 24, 2021 12:42 pm

    I support MikeHig in this. France has absolutely no intention of retiring any of its nuclear fleet of stations. It will remain the bedrock of European grid. I think Germany will be subsidising the enhancements in some disguised way as they are so dependant on the French system ( and the Polish/Norwegian). Ditto Belgium and the Netherlands.
    Its only the Brits who actually seem to want to do what they preach, completely insane!

    • Gerry, England permalink
      March 24, 2021 2:43 pm

      I suspect the French profit nicely from the Germans given that their energy is required to keep the German grid going and the Germans need to dump surplus wind energy at low cost.

    • March 24, 2021 4:40 pm


      It is French govt policy to reduce nuclear energy from 75% to 50% by 2035 in an endeavour to cut its co2 output. 2 more plants are due to close shortly

      Don’t ask me why, when nuclear is the only greenish way to keep the lights on

      • MikeHig permalink
        March 24, 2021 8:08 pm

        climatereason: that policy may be a bit more nuanced than it appears.

        There’s more than one way to get nuclear to 50% of the generating capacity. They could close some plants; they could play games by classifying a chunk of nuclear capacity as “for export”; they could increase the total capacity by boosting hydro, solar , wind, etc..

        The article you linked to says that the 2 reactors at Fessenheim will close – they are actually already closed. That was expected, hence they were left out of the big refurb programme.

        2035 is a long way off.

      • March 24, 2021 9:33 pm

        The biggest risk is if the Greens in France get the balance of power. Currently Micron is hugely unpopular, and may well rely on Greens for a majority.

        Unfortunately such is the state of French politics that a tiny party like the Greens can dictate policy (as incidentally they do in Germany as well)

      • March 24, 2021 9:22 pm


        Yes, 2035 is a long way away but the big question is, will people see sense or be even more barking mad by that time?

  4. Bill Hutchison permalink
    March 24, 2021 1:39 pm

    Barnier did threaten in November 2020 to trade Interconnector supplies for EU fishing access rights although where that matter ended up I am not sure.
    Here on the Solent, the new IFA2 Interconnector went live “for a trial operations period on 22 January and since then it has passed up to 1000 Megawatts both ways and daily between 1.2 and 3% of Britain’s electrical demand. Although it has mainly imported from France, it has supplied to France during a recent cold period and regularly in the early mornings.”
    The best display & graphic analysis of the contribution of each and all of the Interconnectors is at
    UK Interconnectors to France, Belgium and Holland are an obvious vulnerability for our security of supply. AND we are sitting on at least 40 years supply of shale gas from our very own Bowland Shale which the Green Blob will not allow us to use!
    When the utter stupidity of Net Zero becomes clear to Joe Public perhaps things will change.

    • March 24, 2021 1:53 pm

      Utter stupidity indeed, like the COP26 in Glasgow this Nov., when tens of thousands of worldwide delegates will congregate despite our airport and travel restrictions!

  5. Robert Christopher permalink
    March 24, 2021 3:09 pm

    I posted this before, but it is very ‘on topic’:
    [Professor David Blake, the] “… Professor of Economics at City, University of London, warned: “What we have learned from the trade negotiations with Michel Barnier is that the EU is a nasty, spiteful vindictive organisation that cannot be trusted.
    “It exploited every weakness we had to its advantage. For example, we had to trade off fishing for energy security, such is our dependence on electricity from the EU.”

    • Adam Gallon permalink
      March 27, 2021 9:18 am

      [Deleted – O/T]

  6. Joe Public permalink
    March 24, 2021 4:41 pm

    The 1GW Brit-Ned interconnector has been troublesome for months now.

    That’s one of the reasons Bid-to-Offer prices hit £4,000/MWh on 8th Jan, 1st Feb and 15th March this year.

  7. T Walker permalink
    March 24, 2021 5:48 pm

    Come on guys – what can possibly go wrong here??

    We are not going down the pan fast enough we need to close a few more generators! Is it part of the Great Reset – or is our government just plain incompetent and stupid?

    Answers on a postcard please.

    If you want cheering up you should have a look at this comedian ( Robert Llewellyn , Kryten in Red Dwarf) – have you seen his YouTube channel – Fully Charged.

    Oh! Enjoy.

    • Adam Gallon permalink
      March 27, 2021 9:29 am

      [Deleted – O/T]

  8. It doesn't add up... permalink
    March 24, 2021 10:19 pm

    In the case of France I think we can say that when we import, supply is diverted to us from Normandy, and that is mostly nuclear. That will of course take away supply from other areas. The main flex generation in France is hydro and secondarily gas, and both are mostly supplied elsewhere in France (Hydro dominates in the mountainous middle, and gas is mostly close to import sources like Montoir and Fos).

    With the BritNed, the source of power is quite clear. It’s the MPP3 coal fired power station that sits just across the street from the HVDC terminal on Maasvlakte. Only if that is shut is it possible for power from elsewhere to flow into the connector.

    The really big problem for France is Germany. As it is, there are huge variations in interconnector flows between the two countries, depending on whether it’s sunny in Bavaria or windy in Northern Germany, or dark and cold in Munich and Berlin. But by the time the Germans have finished closing their own nuclear and coal capacity, the problems are going to get a lot worse. We will simply be tail end Charlie to the extent that we expose ourselves to it all.

    It’s interesting to see the effect of Germany opening a direct connector to Norway: Norwegian prices have taken a big jump and now mostly reflect the German market. The connector was fully opened in early January.

  9. March 25, 2021 9:16 am

    A huge amount of avoidable damage to us (and the Western world) comes from Greenery, much which is based on entirely unproven hypotheses.

    When on Earth will those in charge of the Western nations, especially our own, recognise the eyewash, fraud and destruction underlying so much Green theorising ?

    The most typical sign of the Green political, industial and financial threats comes from a near-autistic Swedish child, who evidently was nearly awarded a Nobel prize, but what for??

    The future of our ways of life, already so compromised by the Green blind alley, is at stake.

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