The government plans to restart the Saint-Avold coal-fired power station next winter

The Saint-Avold coal-fired power plant in Moselle should restart next winter “as a precaution, given the Ukrainian situation” and tensions on the energy market, the Ministry of Energy Transition confirmed on Sunday. “We are keeping the possibility of being able to operate the Saint-Avold plant for a few more hours if we need it next winter,” the ministry said.

This restart “is part of the closure plan”

The decision is not a total surprise: the government had not ruled out, when the plant was closed on March 31, restarting it from time to time to secure the country’s electricity supply given the conflict in Ukraine and setbacks encountered by EDF’s nuclear fleet. This restart “is part of the closure plan”, reiterated the ministry, which specifies that Emmanuel Macron’s commitment to close all coal-fired power stations in France “remains unchanged”.

“We would remain, in any case, below 1% of electricity produced by coal”, assures the ministry, “and no Russian coal would be used”.

A recovery that includes “environmental counterparties”

Consequently, “a decree will be put out for consultation to organize this possibility of operation next winter”. It will include “environmental compensation” because this restart must be neutral for the environment, the operator committing to “reforestation projects for example”, according to the ministry.

The government also plans to include “legislative adjustments” this summer in the purchasing power bill so that the social plan concerning the plant is not canceled, “which shows the government’s determination to definitively close this plant in coal”.

Emmanuel Macron had promised to close these last coal-fired power stations by 2022

When it closed, 87 employees were still working in the Émile Huchet plant. Half have since retired. To run the plant, around 70 people are needed, according to its director Philippe Lenglart, who told AFP in March that he intended to recall former employees rather than recruit if necessary this winter. There is only one other coal-fired power plant still open in France, in Cordemais, in Loire-Atlantique.

Emmanuel Macron had promised to close these last coal-fired power stations by 2022, which can easily be mobilized to produce electricity when needed, but also emit a lot of CO2.

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