Closed since March, the Émile-Huchet coal-fired power station in Saint-Avold (Moselle) started producing electricity again on Monday morning. Although this type of plant emits a lot of CO2, the government, which had promised to close the last coal-fired power plants in the country as part of the fight against climate change, nevertheless wishes to maximize its chances of securing the country’s supply.
A resumption of service linked to the energy crisis. The first frosts and the start of heating systems increase France’s energy demand. And, with the cessation of Russian fuel deliveries and part of the French nuclear reactors shut down for maintenance, the risk of load shedding is sévère in the country this winter.
The Moselle power station, one of the last in France to run on coal, should have closed its doors permanently after last winter. But its operation was finally extended by the government due to the drop in energy production, precisely linked to the shutdown of several nuclear power plant reactors.
This restart took place later than expected. Initially, the Gazel Energie company was to restart at the beginning of October, ” but with the mild temperatures, demand was not strong enough. The purchase price on the market was not high enough for it to be profitable to restart production”, explains France Bleu Lorraine.
The government has therefore chosen to reopen the Saint-Avold power plant, a restart which “is part of the closure plan”, underlined the Ministry of Energy Transition. The ministry insisted that French President Emmanuel Macron’s pledge to close all coal-fired power stations in France remained “unchanged”.
President Macron had indeed promised, during his first term, to close the last four coal-fired power plants in the country. Because, despite only representing a bit more than 1% of electricity production in 2020, they constituted more than a quarter of the greenhouse gas emissions of the French electricity sector.
Coal is the main source of CO2 emissions in the world. The Saint-Avold power plant will need 500,000 tonnes of coal to operate until the end of March 2023.
The Émile-Huchet plant, when operating at full capacity, produces up to 600 megawatt hours and can supply one-third of the homes in the Grand Est region.