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French power exports jump to 10 GW as nuclear output reaches near record levels

London β€” French power exports rose sharply over the course of this week after EDF ramped up its nuclear power production to near record levels and power demand eased off from Tuesday's highs, data from grid operator RTE showed Friday.

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EDF's fleet of 58 reactors is France's primary source of electricity and nuclear production hit a high of 61.2 GW at 10:15 am (0915 GMT) on Thursday, equaling the previous winter's high, according to data from RTE.

French net power exports sales were 10.0 GW for delivery 9 am Friday, some 7.2 GW higher than sales for the same time on Monday, January 5, RTE data showed.

Nuclear power output rose by 2.0 GW over the same period to 60.7 GW, while French power demand was 73.1 GW at 9 am Friday, down from 81.2 GW on Tuesday when colder weather drove up heating demand.

EDF had 57 out of 58 reactors online this week, allowing output to peak at just 200 MW below the highest production hit in recent years, recorded at 61.4 GW on January 10, 2011, according to RTE data.

EDF has an installed nuclear capacity of 63.1 GW and it will not see all 58 reactors online this winter as the 900 MW Blayais 3 reactor is to remain offline until May and other reactors will be taken offline for maintenance before then, grid data shows.

The rise in nuclear output over the course of this week allowed France to export to all of its neighboring countries Friday morning.

Physical flows of power across the borders are adjusted on an intraday basis and flows at 8 am Friday showed a strong hike since Monday in exports to Germany and Italy.

France swung from an importer from Belgium and Switzerland Monday morning, to an exporter Friday, while flows to UK and Spain were relatively unchanged from Monday morning's levels.

France was exporting 2.0 GW to Germany at 8 am Friday, up from 260 MW on Monday. Exports to Italy rose by 2.1 GW over the same period 2.5 GW.

France was importing power from Belgium and Switzerland at 8 am on Monday, but by 8 am Friday France was exporting 730 MW to Belgium and 1.3 GW to Switzerland.

France has a high proportion of electric-fired heating, making national power consumption particularly sensitive to extreme cold temperatures and often requiring significant imports from neighboring countries.

There has not been a severe cold snap so far this winter and this, along with the increasing impact of energy efficiency measures, has meant French peak power demand has remained at unremarkable levels.

--Robin Sayles,
--Edited by Alisdair Bowles,