Officials in Germany said Wednesday that they will continue to export electricity to neighboring France despite urging consumers to help ward off winter shortages by conserving energy at home.

Electricity rates in France have risen in recent months as a result of problems at French nuclear plants, causing power providers in neighboring countries to export extra energy to France.

“Only half of France’s nuclear power plants are operational,” claimed Germany’s deputy economy and energy minister, Patrick Graichen. “That’s why we, the Italians, and others are all essentially exporting to France.” That is how the European electricity market works.”

It’s yet another indicator of Europe’s energy dilemma. Both natural gas and electricity prices have reached all-time highs, with power costs rising as Russia restricts gas flows to Germany and other countries, while renewables and nuclear power have recently contributed less to the power mix, according to Rystad Energy analysts. High energy prices are fuelling inflation and raising the likelihood of a European recession.

Even precious natural gas, which Germany is attempting to save for the winter heating season in case Russia completely cuts supply, is being used in massive quantities to generate energy for export to France.

“Unless we want to bring their entire European electricity market to a halt, we can’t say that our gas power plants in Germany will no longer export to France,” Graichen added.

Steffen Hebestreit, a government spokesman, said there were no intentions to end the practice, noting the need for European cooperation.

“That’s how the European electricity market is set up, and if we look ahead to autumn and winter, we might be grateful if others can help us out,” he explained.

Meanwhile, the German Cabinet adopted a range of energy-saving measures on Wednesday, including restrictions on heating private pools and a temperature limit of 19 degrees Celsius (66 degrees Fahrenheit) in public buildings. Shops will have to close their doors in the winter to conserve heat, while advertising and public buildings will have to turn off their lights at night.

France, Spain, the Netherlands, and other countries have also established legislation to conserve natural gas.

Germany sending electricity to neighboring nations is part of a “stress test” study set to be published next week, which could influence whether the government decides to renew the operating licenses for Germany’s three surviving nuclear power reactors. This would push back the country’s long-standing intentions to phase out nuclear power this year.

“In theory, nuclear power plants could suck a little more out of their fuel rods in January, February, and March,” Graichen added. “However, there won’t be much left after that.”

Source: AP News

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