French nuclear registered another long-term low in March as average output fell 4.7% on the year to 34.4 GW, system data showed, due to the effects of strikes in the country.
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Analysts at S&P Global Commodity Insight had forecast March to average 38.7 GW, already down sharply from an end-2022 forecast as France's nuclear comeback started to stumble in March amid the strikes.
Meanwhile, operator EDF has already extended its strike warning to April 6 and further delayed reactor returns as strikes enter their fifth week.
Daily 24-hour delays to reactor returns announced over the past two weeks amount to over 17 weeks of lost maintenance across a dozen reactors.
In addition, EDF also postponed the start of maintenance at its six reactors by a combined twelve weeks, delaying their returns later into the autumn.
In the near term, this allowed nuclear to ramp up to 36.3 GW April 3, compared with peaks of around 34 GW late March, as a cold snap boosted demand above 60 GW.
EDF also restarted on April 2 its 1.5-GW Civaux-2 unit, which is currently ramping up output. This is the first return of any reactor since strikes started to impact maintenance in mid-March.
S&P Global forecasts April output to average 33 GW.
Overall, weak demand, strong renewables and falling gas prices have reduced the strike's impact on prompt prices, with April 3 seen settling at Eur123.47/MWh.
Further out, risk premiums returned with Q4 2023 trading above Eur300/MWh and Q1 2024 above Eur400/MWh, EEX data showed.
French Cal 2024 opened April 3 at Eur220/MW, up 49% since March 6 when EDF had announced further cracks at three reactors while submitting a new repair and control plan to safety regulator ASN.
Ongoing strikes make EDF's pledge to perform additional checks faster less likely.
French reactor returns delayed amid strike
|Unit||MW||Outage Start||Scheduled Return||Notes|
|Civaux 2||1500||19/11/2021||02/04/2023||SIS repairs completed|
|Chooz 2||1500||09/02/2023||05/04/2023||Unplanned, SIS repairs completed|
|Cattenom 3||1300||26/03/2022||08/04/2023||SIS repairs ongoing|
|Chooz 1||1500||18/12/2021||18/04/2023||SIS repairs ongoing|
|Gravelines 1||900||11/02/2023||19/05/2023||Refueling, extra maintenance|
|Saint Alban 1||1300||24/02/2023||21/06/2023||Refueling, extra maintenance|
|Golfech 2||1300||27/03/2022||04/09/2023||Refueling, SIS checks|
|Belleville 2||1300||08/04/2023||16/09/2023||Refueling, SIS checks|
|Paluel 2||1300||08/04/2023||19/04/2023||Provisional maintenance|
|Nogent 2||1300||15/04/2023||23/09/2023||Refueling, SIS checks|
Source: EDF transparency notes to April 3