“We are heading towards an industrial disaster if the government does nothing”. Director of Silvadec, in Arzal (56), a company specializing in the production of composite blades, Bénédicte Jézéquel does not hide her concern.
150 km away, on the edge of the Saint-Brieuc bypass, the foundry furnaces heat old scrap metal to transform it into wear parts used in quarries. Taken over four years ago by its executives, Saint-Brieuc foundry (a hundred employees) could be stopped in its tracks by soaring energy prices.
The activity, which consumes a lot of gas and electricity, will be penalized from January 1, worries Patrick Ducatillon, its managing director. As for Silvadec, the amount of its electricity bill will be multiplied by four.
The increases are sometimes so significant that they represent the amount of the annual margins.
The consequence of a world market destabilized by the economic recovery a year ago, then by the war in Ukraine. But not only. French companies fear, at the end of the summer, not having the opportunity to be competitive. “In one year, the wholesale price of MWH for France has gone from 82 to 800 euros. And the offer for November is now at 1,200 euros,” confirms Nicolas Leclerc, co-founder ofOmnegy, specializing in supporting companies and communities in the negotiation of energy contracts. At this price, David Duval, the delegate director of the Union of Metallurgical Industrialists, in Brittany, says he is worried: “The increases are sometimes so significant that they represent the amount of the annual margins. »
The restart of nuclear power in question
The announcement by EDF of a delay in the restart of four nuclear reactors confirms analysts’ fears. Their relative confidence in the forecasts for the resumption of nuclear production for the winter partly explains this increase, accentuated by the rise of the dollar against the euro.
A fear that adds to the threat of a shortage of gas this winter, energy on which the price of electricity is indexed,
RTE’s annual report on security of supply, which is expected to be published in September, could allay their fears. Or confirm them despite government statements about filling gas stocks. The price of gas in Rotterdam testifies to this, according to Jacques Percebois, the director of the energy economics and law research center of the University of Montpellier: “It is equivalent to a barrel at 500 dollars”.
“There is a risk for the sustainability of the company”
Under these conditions, companies investing in energy savings will have a head start. Saint-Brieuc Fonderie is committing 300,000 euros to install self-recovery burners on its heat treatment furnaces and reduce its gas consumption. “But we won’t have time, between now and the end of the year, to put heavier investments in place”. The price of electricity, for lack of a tariff shield, should be multiplied by fifteen this winter.
On Saturday, Bruno Le Maire, Minister of the Economy, said he wanted to simplify access to a fund of three billion euros. The bosses are still worried. “There is a risk for the sustainability of the company”, warns the general manager of the foundry, unable to say if he will be able to pass on the increase in the cost of energy to his customers, in the face of competitors. less concerned.
Partial unemployment this winter?
Faced with this situation, Bénédicte Jézéquel confides that she is preparing a file for partial unemployment. Patrick Ducatillon also thinks about it: “When it’s too expensive, we won’t work. »
The current situation is totally crazy. By force of circumstance, there will be no more orders when prices are too high for our farmer customers.
A stoppage of activity that Myriam Emily does not envisage. The general manager of rRolland trailers – 250 jobs in Tréflévénez (29) – intends to honor its order book, despite a bill up 50%. The company thought it was hedged but ultimately has to deal with market fluctuations. “The current situation is totally crazy. By force of circumstance, there will be no more orders when prices are too high for our farmer customers. »
What other solution? “Go back to regulated standard tariffs for small businesses”, advises Nicolas Leclerc. ?For others, a break in production might be the only solution. Unless the government takes further action.