France has been forced to import electricity from its European neighbours after it was revealed that a third of the country’s 58 nuclear reactors were down and one was operating at 60% capacity during the start of this month.

The move is hoped to prevent blackouts during the winter.

Earlier this year a strike at the EDF power firm delayed the annual programme to replace fuel rods at its plants, which resulted in output being reduced for several months.

A drought during the summer also lowered water levels in dams further decreasing electricity production.

French power grid operator RTE has said some suppliers might be forced to ask big industrial companies to ration power use and warned of potential power cuts in some regions.