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.

In recent years, at the end of each summer, one of the chestnuts of the press was the threat of a blackout in the coming winter. A choppy red cloth that mostly seemed to be there 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 complicated winter. If the temperatures dip, this time it is more than likely that there will not be enough electricity and gas to cope with the consumption peaks of the French. On the gas side, the situation is obviously tense due to the war in Ukraine. The Russian company Gazprom has announced that it will completely stop its gas deliveries to Engie from 1 September. If France has filled its stocks, these will only cover two months of national consumption.

For electricity, the biggest problem is in France: more than half of the nuclear fleet is shut down. Out of 56 reactors, 32 are not operating at the time of writing. In the lot, some are in maintenance, a revision operation planned after a certain period of use. But the maintenance schedule had been disrupted by covid, causing delays.

Good point, home charging is mainly done at night

Above all, reactors have been shut down due to a concern about corrosion, at the level of the welds in the safety injection pipes, which allow the reactor to be cooled in the event of an accident. Added to this are the effects of drought, with the lowest water levels upstream of the hydraulic dams. In the end, EDF produces much less electricity than expected in normal times.

In order to avoid the blackout, the management therefore has a clear message: We must now learn to save electricity. The key word for the new school year is sobriety. The government will therefore present an energy sobriety plan in a few days, which will first be addressed to administrations and companies. The individual will be encouraged to make an effort for the collective good, for example by reducing heating.

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The situation is therefore critical and it is very possible to find yourself in the dark this winter. With a risk for electric drivers: not being able to refuel their vehicle once at home! Especially since the number of electric cars in circulation in France has increased dramatically 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, electric accounted for every tenth delivery! Not to mention that there are more vehicles with large batteries.

Mechanically, the demand for electricity to refuel cars is also increasing sharply, and is therefore added to the already known consumption. Charging at home still has an advantage: it happens above all at night. You plug in your car when you arrive in the evening, only to find it charged in the morning before you leave. You don’t really have to worry about a power outage at night. On the other hand, the concern really increases during periods of high consumption, upon awakening and in the evening.

Persons affected as a last resort

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

Neighborhoods could thus be without power for up to two hours. One thing is for sure: the cut will be general, it will not target a house that overconsumes! The Prime Minister stressed that there was no question of monitoring the French to punish them in case of bad practice. We are therefore not going to look at how you recharge your Zoé, and we will not ask you to use it less.

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

Many electric car owners are already taking advantage of this advantage, especially since it is easy to program the time to charge their car. This particular winter may also require new habits from EV drivers, such as thinking about sharing the charging at home over shorter periods to recover the minimum level of energy needed for the next day’s journey.

On the public charging side, whose neighborhoods are deprived of electricity, the terminals could 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 their electricity consumption during the day, and this service is an accessory for them.

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