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Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews. 

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Heatwave Forces French Nuclear Power Plants To Curb Output

  • The heatwave in Europe is expected to halve the output of the Bugey and Saint Alban nuclear plants in France from July 13 to 16 due to environmental regulations on using river water for reactor cooling.
  • Nuclear power generation in France constitutes about 70% of the country's electricity mix, making France a net exporter of electricity to other European countries when its reactors are fully operational.
  • The situation is unlikely to significantly impact power prices due to cuts being implemented during peak solar power output times and over the weekend, according to Emeric de Vigan, an analyst at Kpler.

The current heatwave in most of Europe, expected to be a prolonged period of higher-than-normal temperatures, is set to limit nuclear power generation at two French nuclear plants this week, operator EDF warned on Wednesday. 

The Bugey and Saint Alban nuclear plants on the Rhone River in eastern France could see their output halved between July 13 and 16, according to an EDF notice cited by Reuters. The output restrictions are coming into place as high temperatures are raising the temperatures of rivers and forcing EDF to reduce nuclear output because of environmental regulations for using river water for cooling nuclear reactors. 

France’s nuclear power generation accounts for around 70 percent of its electricity mix, and when its reactors are fully operational, it is a net exporter of electricity to other European countries.

The Bugey power plant has a capacity of 3.6 gigawatts (GW), and the Saint Alban nuclear plant has 2.6 GW capacity. 

For the rest of this week, production will be at least 1.8 GW at Bugey and 1.3 GW at the Saint Alban plant to meet grid requirements, EDF has said. Output could change depending on the needs of the grid, it added.

The power generation limits are unlikely to affect power prices too much as the cuts would likely be made over the coming weekend and around midday with peak solar power output, Emeric de Vigan, an analyst at Kpler, told Reuters. 

Europe is sizzling in a heatwave due to a weather pattern coming from North Africa, with temperatures in Spain, Italy, France, Poland, and Germany expected to hold very high for a prolonged period. 

The hot weather is not only raising river temperatures, but it also reduces river water levels, posing challenges to France’s vast nuclear fleet. 

Last summer, EDF was forced to reduce nuclear power generation, too, amid the energy and gas crisis. This year, the situation with energy supply has improved, also because of lower consumption from industries. 

On Wednesday, Europe’s benchmark natural gas prices dropped to their lowest in a month amid tepid demand and the return of the massive Norwegian gas field Troll from maintenance.  

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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