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French nuclear power output hits six-week-high as reactors ramp up

Highlights


Output peaks at 41.6 GW, above 2016, but below 2014-15

July to date output still trails 2016 after 4% drop in H1

EDF delays 900-MW Gravelines-3 return to August

French nuclear production Friday rose to a fresh six-week-high as reactors that returned recently continued to ramp up and as heatwave restrictions at three reactors on the River Rhone ended, data from grid operator RTE show.

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Nuclear output peaked at 41.6 GW at 8:15 am local time (0615 GMT), up from a 40.7 GW peak Thursday, the data shows with availability now moving above a year earlier, but still considerably below 2014 and 2015's record highs.

Overnight, nuclear operator EDF returned its 900-MW Blayais-1 unit, but is expected to take the 900-MW Blayais-4 unit offline Friday for its annual maintenance outage until September 18, it said.

EDF also delayed the planned return of its 900-MW Gravelines-3 unit by a week to August 1, with two other units at the Gravelines (units 4 and 5) nuclear power plant near Calais in Northern France set to return for the start of next week following short delays reported this week.



EDF operates France's 58 nuclear reactors but since 2015 has struggled with extended outages and lower nuclear production, which in 2016 dropped below 400 TWh for only the second time this century.

EDF is expected to update its annual nuclear production target next Friday when it reports its first-half earnings.

In its first-quarter earnings report in May, EDF confirmed a 390-400 TWh output target for 2017, but given recent delays and lower output, the outlook is now approaching the lower end of that range.

Nuclear production in H1 was down 4% on year at 196.6 TWh, according to the RTE data, with output in the first half of July also down 5% on the year, with daily output only this week moving higher on the year.

--Andreas Franke, andreas.franke@spglobal.com

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