France leads Europe as largest 2023 energy exporter

March 7, 2024, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

According to a new report by the European energy analysis firm Montel EnAppSys, France was “comfortably” the biggest net exporter of energy in Europe throughout 2023, with its export totals being 48.7 TWh more than its import totals. In second place in Europe was Sweden, with 28.6 TWh more in exports than imports.

Export success: Nuclear power has played a key role in France’s achieving net export of electricity, as noted by Montel EnAppSys senior analyst Clément Bouilloux. “Low demand and the fact that much of France’s nuclear fleet came back on line were key factors in the country’s rise to the top of Europe’s net power export table over the course of last year,” he said, adding, “The return of the nuclear fleet, although far from complete, reduced the need for France to use imports.”

A net win: Bouilloux noted, “The production of electricity was stable throughout the year despite more than 50 GW of nuclear availability in December 2023 compared to 46 GW in February,” meaning nuclear generation increased over the course of the year. However, “In [the second half of] 2023, France consumed less power (18 TWh) than in [the first half of] 2023, which meant it had more scope to send power to other countries at times when they needed it. . . . As a result, France was able to export low-CO2 electricity to the whole of Europe.”

Fleet recovery: A large portion of France’s nuclear fleet has been sidelined in recent years since discovery of stress corrosion cracking in the Civaux plant in 2021. Subsequent inspections at other plants led to shutdowns for repairs, which were ongoing throughout 2023.

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