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EDF warns heatwave may force brief outage for 2.6 GW Golfech reactors

Highlights

Restrictions focus on July 31 to August 3 period

Mini-heatwave only forecast to last until weekend

July's nuclear average above expectations at 30 GW

London — Rising temperatures may lead to output restrictions at France's 2.6 GW Golfech nuclear power plant from July 31, operator EDF warned.

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"Due to the temperature forecasts on the Garonne, production restrictions are likely to affect EDF's nuclear power plant at Golfech," it said July 27.

This could lead to "unavailability of both units" until August 2.

France's most southerly reactors, located between Toulouse and Bordeaux on the Garonne river, were some of the most impacted units during an extended heatwave last summer when air temperatures rose above 40 C in late June.

The current spell of hot weather is not forecast to stretch beyond the weekend with Meteo France not yet characterizing it as heatwave despite measuring the highest temperature so far this year at nearby Albi at 39.9 C on July 27.

In 2019, temperatures briefly peaked in late June above 40 C amid extended spells of extreme hot weather, increasing river temperatures above critical levels.

Grid operator RTE forecasts power demand to peak above 55 GW on July 31 with average weighted temperatures 7 C above norms.

In June 2019, French demand spiked close to record summer highs of 59.5 GW as temperatures reached 45 C in some regions of southern France.

Around two-thirds of France's 56 reactor units are river-cooled, with some restrictions due to high temperatures stretching into autumn during past summers.

Overall, French nuclear output has set consecutive monthly record lows since November with June averaging only 29 GW, down 10 GW on year.

Weekly generation, however, rebounded to a seven-week high in the seven days to July 26, averaging 32 GW with July's reactor performance exceeding expectations and EDF lifting its 2020 forecast by up to 8% on July 2 as easing coronavirus restrictions would allow for faster maintenance outages.