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France’s Nuclear Woes Will Worsen Europe’s Power Crisis

Drought and hot weather this summer are adding to France’s nuclear power generation problems at the worst possible moment. As Europe grapples with low Russian gas supply and the threat of no Russian supply at all, non-Russian energy sources are more important than ever.

French power giant Electricite de France (EDF) warned on Tuesday that it may have to reduce nuclear power generation as the water levels of rivers are low and water temperatures high.

France has been experiencing outages at its nuclear reactors in recent months, slashing power generation from nuclear power plants. 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. Prolonged maintenance at several nuclear reactors this year, however, means that France—and the rest of Europe—have less nuclear-generated power supply now.

As a result of all these factors, power prices in Germany, France, and the rest of Europe renewed their rise in recent weeks.

Half of all reactors EDF is operating are currently offline for planned maintenance or repairs. 

Now the summer poses another supply risk for the operational reactors of EDF. The low river levels and the warm water in rivers could force EDF to reduce nuclear output because of environmental regulations for using river water for cooling nuclear reactors.

“We expect some cuts in production” to comply with environmental standards as meteorologists expect a “hot and dry summer,” Cecile Laugier, director of environment at EDF’s nuclear production division, said on Tuesday, as carried by Bloomberg.

“There is a little less water available this year,” especially in southeastern France, Laugier added.

Meanwhile, power prices in France and Germany surged to records earlier this week, pushed up primarily by concerns over gas supply as Russia slashed deliveries in the middle of June and may not resume flows via Nord Stream once the gas pipeline from Russia to Germany exits its regular two-week maintenance at the end of July.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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