Will we be able to charge our electric car freely this winter?

The threat of power cuts hangs over the country. But the government wants to spare individuals as much as possible.

For the past few years, at the end of each summer, one of the nuts in the press was the threat of a blackout during the next winter. A choppy red rag that seemed to be there primarily to attract views and clicks. But in 2022, the situation has changed, the threat is already more serious.

The government is starting to prepare minds for a very difficult winter. If temperatures drop, it is more than likely that this time there will not be enough electricity and gas to meet the French consumption peaks. On the gas side, it is clear that the situation is tense because of the war in Ukraine. Russian company Gazprom has announced that it will completely suspend its gas deliveries to Engie from 1 September. If France has filled its stocks, they only cover two months of national consumption.

For electricity, the biggest problem is in France: more than half of the nuclear fleet is closed. Of the 56 reactors, 32 are not working at the time of writing. On the batch, some are undergoing maintenance, a planned overhaul operation after a certain time of use. But the maintenance schedule had been interrupted by covid, which caused delays.

Good point, home charging is mostly done at night

Above all, the reactors are shut down due to concerns about corrosion, at the level of the elbow welds of the safety injection tubes, which allow the reactor to cool down in the event of an accident. Added to this are the effects of drought, with the lowest water level upstream of the hydraulic dams. In the end, EDF produces much less electricity than expected in normal times.

To avoid the blackout, the executive has, therefore, a clear message: now it is necessary to learn to save electricity. The keyword for the new school year is sobriety. The government will therefore present an energy sobriety plan within a few days, which will primarily address administrations and companies. Individuals will be called upon to make efforts for the collective good, for example, by reducing warming.

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The situation is therefore critical and finding yourself in the dark this winter is quite possible. With a risk for electric vehicle drivers: not being able to refuel your vehicle once at home! Especially as the number of electric cars in circulation in France has increased sharply in recent months. While just over 40,000 were registered in 2019, it was 160,000 in 2021. And from January to June 2022, 93,000 were registered. During the first half of 2022, trams accounted for one in ten deliveries! Not to mention there are more vehicles with large batteries.

Mechanically, the demand for electricity to refuel cars is also increasing sharply, and therefore adds to the already known current consumption. Charging at home still has an advantage: it is mostly done at night. You start your car when you arrive at night, to find it charged in the morning before you leave. You really don’t have to worry about a power outage at night. On the other hand, worry increases a lot in periods of high consumption, when waking up and at night.

Affected individuals as a last resort

If energy sobriety isn’t there, the government will first target companies. Those who are not strategic and those who consume a lot will be the first to be affected by the cuts. And on the side of individuals? It is possible, but what is called load shedding will be the most extreme solution possible during periods of extreme cold.

Thus, neighborhoods can be without electricity for up to two hours. One thing is for sure: the cut will be general, it will not target a house that consumes too much! The prime minister stressed that this is not about policing the French to punish them in case of bad practice. So we’re not going to see how you recharge your Zoé and we’re not going to ask you to use it less.

The situation will require some adaptations, such as not starting your charge around 7pm when you arrive at the garage, but later when you go to sleep. The government just wants to promote the consumption of electricity at night and has asked suppliers to work on formulas that encourage the French to change their consumption.

Many electric vehicle owners are already taking advantage of this advantage, mainly because it’s easy to program the car’s charging time. This particular winter may also require new habits from EV drivers, such as thinking about splitting home charging into shorter periods to recover the minimum energy level needed for the next day’s journey.

On the public charging side, if the neighborhoods are deprived of electricity, the terminals can be HS. Can the government also regulate access to fast charging stations? Hard to imagine, this affects the mobility of the French, it would be like closing gas stations. On the other hand, companies could pause their terminals in their parking lot to reduce electricity consumption during the day, with this service being an auxiliary service for them.

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