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Higher Nuclear Output Helps France Meet Rising Power Demand

Higher nuclear power generation during the weekend has helped France avoid a strain on its electricity grid on Monday as demand surged amid freezing temperatures, transmission grid operator RTE said.

French power demand jumped to above 80 gigawatts (GW) during the peak morning hours on Monday, reaching that level of demand for the first time this winter, as temperatures in Paris dropped to below 0 degrees Celsius (32 F), a spokesperson for RTE told Reuters.

Nuclear power met 41 GW of demand after energy giant EDF increased power generation at three reactors at the end of last week after repairs.  

After this morning’s peaks, the French power supply could rely on 41 GW of nuclear generation, good imports “from pretty much everywhere in Europe,” and low demand, Emeric de Vigan, vice president of power at analytics firm Kpler, tweeted today.

The French transmission system operator has pretty comfortable margins, de Vigan added.

Low nuclear power availability has been an issue for the French power system throughout this year as half of the country’s reactors were offline at one point in the autumn due to repairs or maintenance.

Earlier this month, Xavier Piechaczyk, the head of grid operator RTE, said that France could face the risk of power cuts this winter when electricity supply may not be enough to meet demand.

“We are in this tense situation because the French nuclear fleet is not at full capacity”, Piechaczyk said, adding that France is also paying the price of the slow deployment of renewable energy.

Last month, RTE said that the French electricity grid is at higher risk of strained power supplies in January 2023 than previously estimated due to lower nuclear power generation. 

Delays in routine maintenance work at France’s nuclear power stations will lead to a slightly lower nuclear availability this winter than expected back in September, the grid operator said. This raises the risk of a power supply crunch in January, RTE said in its latest winter preparedness analysis in November.

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • George Doolittle on December 12 2022 said:
    The *"breeder reactor"* business is a really ugly thing.

    *TRILLIONS* in US Dollar ahem "remediation" ahem issues.

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