France denies Italian information on a possible halt in energy exports
France denied reports that utility EDF had warned Italy it could suspend electricity exports to the country and reaffirmed its commitment to “solidarity” with its neighbors as Europe is in the grip of an energy crisis.
Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported earlier on Saturday that Italy had received written notification from EDF about a potential two-year shutdown on power exports as part of France’s energy saving plans.
A spokesperson for The Italian Ministry of Ecological Transition later confirmed the newspaper article.
“The French authorities deny this information and reaffirm their commitment to reciprocal solidarity in terms of electricity and gas with all our European neighbors,” said the French Ministry of Energy Transition in a press release.
An EDF spokesperson also denied that the group had warned Italy of a possible suspension of its electricity exports to the country.
Earlier this week however, French network operator RTE said in its winter outlook report that in an extreme situation it might need stop an interconnection to Italyas well as one to the UK, a move that would halt exports.
Asked about the Repubblica report, a spokesperson for Italy’s Ecological Transition Ministry confirmed a communication to the ministry, adding that “the problem has been known for months because of France’s problems with its nuclear power plants”.
France has for years helped sustain Europe’s electricity supply, supplying around 15% of its total electricity production and accounting for around 5% of Italy’s annual electricity consumption in 2019, according to Eurostat data.
But this year, France has become a net importer of electricity, its own production of nuclear energy having Lowest in 30 years due to a wave of repairs at the country’s nuclear power plants. Meanwhile, European countries are in the throes of an energy crisis triggered by the collapse of Russian natural gas supplies following the Ukrainian conflict.
Nuclear output at state-controlled Electricité de France SA is set to fall to the lowest in more than three decades as it grapples with the maintenance of its aging plants. France, traditionally the leading electricity exporting country in Europe, became a net importer. With the compression of Russian gas flows, the EDF crisis is a major source of Europe’s energy deficit.
In an effort to increase gas savings, the Italian government has said it will aim to reduce heating by 1 degree Celsius in public and private residential buildings in the second half of 2022, while reducing heating time by one hour. per day.
As Europe heads into a tough winter, policymakers are keenly aware that shortages risk testing the solidarity between countries – and the system of interconnections between nations.