“Without the markets, the price of electricity would not have changed significantly”

Grandstand. The surge in electricity market prices is all the more difficult to accept as the costs of the electricity system have remained globally stable. About 85% of these costs are fixed, ie independent of the amount of electricity produced. These are mainly network and production plant construction costs, financial costs and fixed operating costs.

The remaining 15% essentially correspond to fuel costs, mainly uranium and gas. The latter represented 3% of system costs on average over the period 2012-2019. It rose to 8% in 2021 due to the surge in its price. The price of gas also impacts the trade balance, but this has not deteriorated in 2021, on the contrary and it remains structurally positive: France exports more electricity than it imports.

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Given the structure of the costs of the electricity system, France spends each year for its electricity, including imports and exports, an amount of about 40 billion euros on average over the decade 2012-2021, little variable and in slight increase (less than 1% per year). In 2021, this amount increased by 5% compared to this ten-year average and by only 4% compared to 2020, i.e. less than 2 billion euros. Not enough to cause a crisis!

A market “aberrant”

If the State had to intervene as a firefighter to avoid a 45% increase excluding tax in the regulated sales tariff for individuals, if it had to ask EDF to pay its competitors, for 20 TWh, the difference between a price stratospheric market and the cost of nuclear production, it is not because of an increase in the cost of electricity. It is due to a market rightly qualified as“aberrant” by the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire.

Even on an annual average, market prices have fluctuated twenty times more than production costs over the last decade, with a difference of 239% between the annual minimum and maximum (€32/MWh in 2020, €108/MWh in 2021) against a difference of only 16% for production costs. Without the markets, the price of electricity would not have changed significantly.

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Where does the money go? Obviously, some have benefited from it, in particular among the suppliers who have benefited from State aid via EDF. Engie or TotalEnergies, which has just announced a net profit of 14 billion euros in 2021, did they need this aid? Julien Tchernia, co-founder of the supplier Eqwater, explained, in the “Complément d’Enquête” program of January 27, on France 2, how his company speculated with the help of the historic State represented by Regulated Access to historic nuclear electricity (ARENH).

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