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French weekly power exports soar on low domestic demand, nuclear gains

Highlights

Demand seen 12% lower on year for Nov. 1-15

Nuclear ramps up to 43 GW weekly average

Exports averaged over 10 GW last week

London — French power exports surged 63% week on week to average 10.3 GW for the seven days to Nov. 15 (week 47) as nuclear production ramped up and domestic demand remained low, according to system data.

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Domestic demand averaged 51.4 GW for the week as mild temperatures and coronavirus lockdown restrictions kept demand restrained, data from grid operator RTE show.

Average demand for the first 15 days of November of 51 GW was 12% lower compared to a 58 GW average for the first 15 days of November 2019.

Nuclear production continued to ramp up, rising above 45 GW for the first time this winter despite price-driven rampdowns for the Nov. 11 national holiday and strong wind across Western Europe Nov. 15 to avoid negative hourly prices with a 32 GW overnight low pushing the weekly average to 43 GW.

Nuclear availability, with at least 42 reactors online, exceeded November 2018 and 2019 levels when the French reactor fleet stuttered to monthly record lows.

Reactor output on Nov.16 peaked at 44.4 GW despite an unplanned outage at the 1.3 Golfech 2 unit scheduled to return Nov. 18.

Rising gas-fired generation balanced slight declines for hydro, wind and solar, but average gas generation remained below November 2019 levels, while exports exceeded last year's level.

Low nuclear and strong demand in September saw France turn into a net importer in September for the first time during a summer season month in recent years.

Slightly cooler temperatures forecast for the final week of November were set to lift peak demand to a season-high of 73 GW Nov. 25, the latest seven-day outlook by RTE shows with temperatures seen falling back in line with seasonal norms.

FRENCH POWER GENERATION

Average (GW)
Week 47
Week 46
Week 45
Nov-20 (1-15)
Nov-19
Demand
51.4
52.8
51.1
51.0
60.7
Nuclear
43.0
41.7
39.5
42.0
40.4
Hydro
6.2
6.4
7.2
6.3
8.9
Wind
4.7
5.0
7.2
5.2
4.7
Gas
5.2
4.7
2.5
4.8
6.7
Coal
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.1
0.6
Solar
0.8
0.9
0.9
0.9
0.5
Net exports
-10.3
-6.3
-6.5
-8.4
-2.0

Source: RTE