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EDF's reactor restarts for winter will be monitored: minister

Highlights

32 out of 56 French reactors currently offline

EDF committed to restart all reactors: minister

Platts Analytics forecasts Dec. to average 44 GW

  • Author
  • Andreas Franke
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  • William Freebairn
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  • Electric Power Natural Gas

France's government is to closely monitor EDF's attempts to restart all its 56 French reactors this winter, energy minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said Sept. 2.

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Unprecedented outages, with 32 reactors currently offline, have added risk premiums to French winter power prices with some monthly contracts spiking above Eur2,000/MWh on Aug. 26.

The government will monitor weekly progress in returning those reactors, the minister said after a special government meeting on energy security issues.

"EDF is committed [engaged] to restart all its reactors this winter," the minister said.

This was in line with the current availability schedule listing six reactors that will return only in the first quarter of 2023.

The government will put particular vigilance that this schedule is kept, Pannier-Runacher said.

French nuclear fell 37% on year in August, with the 18.1 TWh generated the lowest monthly output on record.

At least nine reactors are scheduled to return in September with another 19 units to follow in the fourth quarter, according to EDF's transparency schedule, with no major changes reported Sept. 2.

EDF has been dealing with concerns about stress corrosion cracking, which manifests itself as fissures on pipe welds and reactor primary circuit pipes, since the problem was first identified during routine checks at the 2,990-MW Civeaux nuclear plant Oct. 21, 2021. A program of inspections and repairs has been put in place to assess the extent of the problem and made any needed modifications to reactors as they shut for maintenance.

French nuclear output was further reduced earlier this year as high river water temperatures forced power reductions at some units.

The operator on Aug. 26 delayed return dates for four 1.3-GW reactors at Cattenom and Penly by over five months, the equivalent of over 5 TWh in lost production for the winter period.

Platts Analytics forecasts French nuclear to ramp up from around 24 GW to a 43.8 GW average output in December.

Winter quarter contracts eased Sept.2 to Eur980/MWh and Eur1,030/MWh respectively for Q4 2022 and Q1 2023, EEX data show.

The minister also outlined other energy security measures from energy savings to European cooperation on energy with primary focus on filling gas storage to mandatory levels.