France Cuts Nuclear Power Generation Amid Record-Breaking Heatwave
Europe's ongoing heat wave will continue through the end of the month, producing record-breaking temperatures across the continent. The heatwave is beginning to curb nuclear power production in France, which could have widespread effects across European markets.
Bloomberg reports French utility Electricite de France SA (EDF) was forced to reduce power generation at three power plants this week, two on the Rhone River and another on the Garonne, after water temperatures from each respective river were too hot to circulate through condensers and discharge back into waterways because superheated water would cause environmental harm.
Restrictions on the Rhone will cut output at the Saint-Alban plant from July 20, but the facility will maintain minimum production of at least 1,300 megawatts for grid operational reasons, EDF said in a filing. That's half its usual capacity. The Tricastin and Blayais plants will each operate at a minimum level of 1,800 megawatts from July 17.
The Saint-Alban and Blayais facilities, as well as the Golfech plant, have received temporary waivers of water-discharge rules to keep them in operation during the heatwave, Les Echos reported, without giving specifics on output. The Garonne River reached 28 degrees Celsius on Thursday. -Bloomberg
France's nuclear reactor capacity was around 46% on Friday, down from 47% on Wednesday, according to data via grid operator RTE.
The implications of slumping nuclear power output for France's atomic fleet, the largest in Europe and producing 25% of all power on the continent, have been soaring electricity prices.
French week-ahead power soared 18% to 500 euros a megawatt-hour since last week -- the highest weekly close on record.
Ahead of summer, half of France's 56 reactors were offline due to routine maintenance. The outage continues to expand due to heatwaves, and water restrictions on rivers have sent nuclear power output to the lowest seasonal level in at least a decade.
According to the French national meteorological service Météo-France, next Monday could be one of the hottest days on record, especially in the southern part of the country.
A combination of heatwaves and maintenance is crippling France's atomic fleet and comes at a time when the continent suffers from an energy crisis.