Half of France's nuclear power plants are offline because of "maintenance or defects," which comes at a precarious time for energy and power markets across Europe as prices soar due to the Ukraine conflict.
Bloomberg reports energy supplier Electricité de France (EDF) is struggling with widespread outages after 28 of the country's 56 reactors are offline due to routine maintenance or defects.
France's nuclear power plants supply more than 66% of its total power output. The outrage has caused nuclear power output to hit the lowest seasonal level in at least a decade.
France's electricity market has trended higher in terms of prices, upwards of 30% more than its German neighbor that relies mostly on fossil fuels to power its plants. French power prices are four times higher than at the same time in 2021 because declining nuclear power has put more pressure on other power generation sources, thus triggering a supply crunch.
Emeric de Vigan, chief executive officer at French energy analysis firm COR-e, told Bloomberg that high power prices are likely to remain because the country's nuclear power problems are "going to last beyond this year and likely into the year after."
On Wednesday, JPMorgan Chase & Co. questioned if more nuclear reactors scheduled to be down this year can be pushed to 2023 "given the extraordinarily tight supply/demand and the geopolitical context."
Bloomberg noted the combination of nuclear outages and government measures to cap power prices would result in a massive 26.2 billion euros ($28.3 billion) loss in earnings for EDF this year.
France is Europe's largest net exporter of power. Continuous nuclear reactor outrages will elevate power prices and strain the crisis-stricken continent ever more as Russia now demands rubles in exchange for fossil fuels.