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French nuclear weekly generation falls below 30 GW to 9-week-low

Highlights

28.4 GW average some 10 GW below Sept. 2019

Low river levels at Chooz, unplanned outages, delays

France turned net importer for week ending Sept. 6

London — French nuclear generation averaged 28.4 GW in the seven days to Sept. 6, the lowest weekly average in nine weeks, according to data from system operator RTE.

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Nuclear output rose to 29.2 GW on Sept. 7, but that was 12 GW lower than a year earlier as the 3-GW Chooz plant remained offline due to low river levels, with a number of reactor returns delayed.

Weekly generation hit a record low 26 GW average in early July, but has recovered more quickly than expected since to average above 30 GW for July and August with the year-on-year deficit shrinking to 6 GW in August from around 10 GW in July.

EDF delayed Sept. 6 the planned return of Cattenom 2 by two days to Sept. 13. The reactor has been offline since April 3 for annual maintenance initially scheduled to end-June, but rescheduled several times since.

Tricastin 3, offline unplanned since Sept. 2, was now scheduled to return overnight, it said Sept.6, while an unplanned outage at Golfech 2 was extended to Sept. 17.

Tricastin 4, meanwhile, was set to return one month earlier than planned from maintenance on Oct.11.

The Chooz outage due to low river levels is having the biggest single impact keeping the 3-GW plant offline for around four weeks, currently not expected back online before Sept. 19, offsetting the earlier than planned return of one unit from maintenance.

France turned into a net importer for the week ending Sept. 6, with 2 GW flowing on average into France compared to net exports averaging 2.3 GW in August, 5 GW less net exports than in August 2019 with the fall in nuclear output pushing regional power prices to seven-month highs.

This "dynamic, where technical constraints limit the availability of the nuclear fleet and hydro stocks are arguably preserved for key winter months, can extend the upside risk for [power] prices into September should temperatures remain warm," S&P Global Platts Analytics said in its monthly report Sept. 1.

French October baseload power has risen some 20% over the past two weeks, trading Sept. 7 at Eur48.85/MWh, EEX data shows.