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Germany to return to full nuclear availability on Thursday

Germany's 1.4-GW Philippsburg-2 nuclear plant and 1.3-GW Emsland Areactor are currently both scheduled to come back on Wednesday evening localtime after their return dates have been changed multiple times, EEXTransparency data showed Tuesday.

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The Philippsburg-2 had its latest return date set for June 14 and EmslandA for June 12 before EEX Transparency updated the restart to June 13, 11:00 pm2100 GMT) and 9:00 pm local time, respectively.

Nuclear output has been 40% lower year on year in May, due to therefueling and maintenance work at the two plants and because of the closure ofthe 1.3-GW Gundremmingen B reactor.

Their return to the grid will bring nuclear availability in Germany to9.4 GW following their full ramp-up on Thursday, with all the remaining sevennuclear reactors on grid, according to EEX.

Fundamentals in the German short-term market have been bullish for thelast few weeks due to a low-wind scenario, higher generating fuel costs and amultitude of outages, supporting above-average prices.

Week 23 -- the seven days to last Sunday -- had the highest average spotprice since 2011. With wind set to remain below 10 GW this week, the plants'return will increase supply sharply.

However, apart from the overlap of nuclear outages from end-May tomid-June, maintenance will be more evenly spread in 2018 than last year,putting less overall pressure on the supply system. Maintenance outagesstretch from the end of February to late September.

Last winter, German reactor availability fell to its lowest since theearly 1980s with two reactors (Philippsburg 2 and Brokdorf) needing majoradditional repairs. Outages overlapped as the expiry of the fuel tax by theend of 2016 incentivized nuclear plants to operate in stretching mode andpostpone planned repairs and refueling to the start of 2017.

This year, Philippsburg-2 is the plant with the longest maintenance, withover one month off the grid.

Stopping operation at the end 2017, the Gundremmingen-B reactor was thesecond modern reactor to lose its operating license under the nuclearphase-out timetable set in 2011 following the Fukushima nuclear crisis, whichreversed Germany's plan to extend the life-span of its nuclear power plants.

The next reactor to permanently close after Gundremmingen-B isPhilippsburg-2 by end-2019, with three more reactors closing by end-2021 andend-2022. --Inga Freund, inga.freund@spglobal.com

--Edited by Jonathan Dart, jonathan.dart@spglobal.com