London — Average French nuclear generation fell to a record low in February of 45 GW, down 5.5% on the year, grid operator data showed March 1.
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Nuclear power production averaged 41.8 GW in the seven days to Feb. 28 (week 8), the lowest weekly average during winter, down another 1.3 GW week-on-week.
Average demand meanwhile fell another 7 GW week-on-week to 55.5 GW.
Two more reactors came offline for annual maintenance Feb. 27. Overall, an unprecedented 11 units started maintenance before March.
Nuclear output on Feb. 28 fell below 37 GW, the lowest this winter and some 15 GW below January's peak.
Operator EDF stopped three 900 MW units at Blayais Feb. 28 due to significant presence of sediment in the filter drums of the pumping station, it said. The incident triggered an automatic shutdown for units 3 and 4, while unit 1 was taken offline as a preventative measure. Unit 1 was to return March 1 at 1900 local time, while units 3 and 4 were scheduled to return March 2 at 2300, it said.
EDF also delayed return dates for Gravesline 6 and Bugey 3 by another couple of days to March 8 and March 11 respectively.
EDF brought forward return dates for Chooz 1 and Paluel 4 with the Paluel unit the first to return after completing 2021 annual maintenance in six weeks.
French demand was forecast to rebound to a 74 GW peak March 8 as temperatures were set to drop below norms again after an unusually mild second half of February, according to RTE's 7-day outlook.
S&P Global Platts Analytics assumes March nuclear output to average around 42 GW and further recovering above last year's monthly averages for the summer quarters.
EDF on Feb. 18 maintained its 2021 annual nuclear production forecast in a wide range of 330-360 TWh. 2020 output fell to an all-time low of 335 TWh.
Pressure on French power prices eased in the second-half of February as average demand fell some 20 GW within two weeks.
March baseload ended February some 20% below peaks seen Feb. 9, exchange data show. French year-ahead power also eased from a 19-month-high at Eur55/MWh on Feb. 8 to settle Feb. 26 at Eur53.39/MWh, EEX data show.
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