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French nuclear output falls as 4 GW heat-related restrictions take effect

Highlights

2.6 GW Golfech NPP offline until next Wednesday

Saint Alban output cut by 1.4 GW Wednesday

Output cuts combine to around 500 GWh so far

London — French nuclear generation fell to 38 GW Wednesday as 4 GW of heat-related restrictions took effect at the Golfech and Saint Alban nuclear plants in southern France, data by grid operator RTE showed.

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The current heatwave forced nuclear operator EDF to take its 2.6 GW Golfech plant on the Garonne river offline Tuesday afternoon.

Both 1.3 GW units are currently scheduled to return next Wednesday, according to EDF's latest update Tuesday evening.

In addition, EDF extended output restrictions for the two 1.3 GW reactors at Saint Alban on the Rhone river.

Unit 2 has been ramped down to 260 MW for all of Wednesday and will remain restricted at 890 MW until 5:30 pm local time on Thursday, it said Wednesday morning.

Unit 1 was restricted to 929 MW for 49 hours starting at 11:30 pm Tuesday.

Related story: Heatwave to force EDF's Golfech nuclear plant offline

The current spell of restrictions at Saint Alban amount to around 50 GWh in lost output, adding to some 440 GWh from the week-long shutdown at Golfech.

EDF lost 2.7 TWh in nuclear output in 2018 due to heat-related restrictions at four reactors that stretched into early autumn.

Some 40 out of France's 58 reactor units are river-cooled.

The heatwave is expected to peak Thursday with temperatures falling sharply to seasonal norms by the weekend, according to Meteo France.

Demand forecasts, meanwhile, have been reduced slightly with RTE pegging Thursday's peak demand at 58.7 GW, just shy of a 59.5 GW summer demand high on June 27.

Peak demand next week is set to peak at 53.9 GW Tuesday with average temperatures just 2.5 degrees Celsius above normal, according to RTE's seven-day forecast.

UK National Grid data Wednesday morning showed France importing up to 1.8 GW from the UK on the IFA interconnector.

The UK was also exporting over 700 MW to the Netherlands and 800 MW to Belgium as of 07:00 am BST.

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

-- Edited by Debiprasad Nayak, debiprasad.nayak@spglobal.com