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EDF's 1.3 GW Nogent to return earlier; July output above expectations

Highlights

Nogent to return Aug 6, ahead of earlier planned Oct 15

No heatwave restrictions yet for Golfech next week

French nuclear averaged 30 GW in July, above expectations

London — France's 1.3-GW Nogent reactor is set to return earlier than planned August 6, operator EDF said July 31, as French nuclear availability continued to rise.

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Coronavirus restrictions in April prompted a two-month delay to the reactor's return from maintenance to October 15, but easing of restrictions have progressively brought this date forward, most recently to August 15.

The reactor on the Seine east of Paris was taken offline for a 10-year overhaul in February, initially to last six months.

Two other French reactors taken offline at the start of 2020 for 10-year overhauls are also now back on original schedules with Chooz 1 set for an August 15 return and Bugey 2 on September 10.

Dampierre 2 was also brought forward by another month to September 15, EDF said July 31.

Meanwhile heatwave concerns have eased in the near term with EDF July 30 revoking an outage warning for the 2.6-GW Golfech nuclear plant on the River Garonne in southern France, as temperatures fell back after briefly hitting 40 degrees Celsius.

"According to the last temperature forecast for the Garonne, no production restriction is expected for the Golfech nuclear power plant, on the next seven days," it said July 30.

Nuclear rebound

French nuclear generation proved surprisingly resilient in July, averaging 30 GW, up 2% from June, but still 23% below July 2019, grid operator data showed July 31.

Nuclear output peaked near 34 GW late July, the highest since early June with at least three reactors returning from annual maintenance (Dampierre 4, Tricastin 3, Cruas 3).

In June, nuclear plunged 25% on the year to a record low 29 GW.

The week ending July 5 set the low point averaging only 26 GW following the closure of Fessenheim 2 and nuclear briefly dipping below 20 GW July 5.

S&P Global Platts Analytics already forecast more resilient French nuclear output this summer before EDF on July 2 lifted its 2020 nuclear target by up to 8%.

Demand recovered gradually in July and was set to average 44 GW, some 2 GW above June's demand average, with easing restrictions offset by the start of the summer holidays and a brief hot spell late July.

Temperatures are forecast to dip below norms for the first days of August, but set to rise again sharply in around seven days, the latest weekly forecast by RTE showed. However, the 6 C swing in temperatures was only forecast to boost peak demand by 1 GW from August 4 to a 52.4 GW peak August 7, well below last year's summer peak demand of over 59 GW caused by an early heatwave in late June.

French August baseload power contracts ended the months just above Eur35/MWh, little changed from the July 1 settlement on EEX, with supply/demand swings as well as volatile EUA carbon allowance prices the key drivers.

French power prices averaged Eur23.70/MWh in the first six months, but forward contracts have been recovering since April because of EDF's sharp nuclear cuts.

FRENCH REACTORS OFFLINE FOR 10-YEAR-OVERHAULS (2020)

10-year-overhauls
MW
Outage Start
New return date
Delayed return (April 22)
Nogent 2
1300
09/02/2020
06/08/2020
15/10/2020
Chooz 1
1500
22/02/2020
15/08/2020
08/10/2020
Bugey 2
900
18/01/2020
10/09/2020
26/09/2020
Chinon 4
900
30/05/2020
12/12/2020
09/01/20201
Belleville 1
1300
06/06/2020
05/02/2021
05/03/2021

Source: EDF