France’s fossil fuel import bill is set to double from 2021, reaching 100 billion euros as energy bills soar across Europe, the French Nuclear Energy Company has said. (SFEN) during a parliamentary hearing on Wednesday.
The French Treasury revealed in April that the French energy bill had reached a record level, rising from 27 billion euros in the second half of 2021 to 48 billion euros in the first half of 2022. the year with an energy bill of more than 100 billion euros”, declared the director general of the SFEN, Valérie Faudon, before the hearing committee.
The bill amounted to 44.3 billion euros in 2021, more than double the 19.1 billion euros in 2020, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Ecological Transition.
The rise in costs is explained by the difference between energy supply and demand following the COVID-19 crisis, which has led to higher fossil fuel prices and import volumes.
Specifically, import bills for oil, refined products and biofuels have risen sharply. The natural gas bill has almost tripled, from 5.2 billion euros in 2020 to 13.3 billion euros in 2021.
At the same time, coal imports increased only slightly, while a positive electricity export balance reduced the bill by 2.6 billion euros, compared to 1.2 billion euros in 2020 .
France‘s saving grace: nuclear energy
The situation is similar, if not worse, in other European countries. The German energy mix is made up of 78% fossil fuels, compared to 46% for France. France is also less dependent on Russian gas than its European partners, representing only 20% of its energy imports, compared to 38% in the EU.
According to a restrictive approach based on acquired cross-sectional data, the German bill should exceed 120 billion euros by the end of this year.
That said, France’s and the EU’s reliance on Russian gas has steadily increased over the past three years, with an increase of 13% and 20% respectively in 2019.
However, France can rely on nuclear energy more than many of its neighbors. It remains affordable enough not to become a strategic concern and represents less than a billion euros for the year, explained Faudon.
According to the Ministry of Ecological Transition, nuclear energy represents 40% of total primary electricity consumption.
“We can see the effects of a good energy mix versus a reliance on fossil fuels,” Faudon noted.
Despite nuclear power, France is a net importer of electricity
In 2022, however, France will remain a net importer of electricity. Low nuclear power availability due to nuclear power plant maintenance delays and limited hydropower generation due to summer droughts have driven up electricity costs dramatically, alongside rising fuel prices and volumes imported fossils.
According to INSEE, the bill of 100 billion euros should represent between 4% and 4.5% of French gross domestic product in 2022.
This situation has therefore led to a sharp deterioration in the French trade balance, going from a deficit of 51 billion euros in the second half of 2021 to a deficit of 71 billion euros for the second half of 2022.
[Edited by Théo Bourgery-Gonse]
(Paul Messad | EURACTIV.fr)