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French nuclear output trails 2018 by 9 GW for early December

London — French nuclear generation was lagging behind last year's level by 9 GW as of Monday, with at least 16 reactors unavailable due to maintenance delays and safety checks, data from operator EDF showed.

December output now needs to match last year's average of 52 GW to reach the lower end of EDF's reduced 2019 generation target of 384 TWh.

November output averaged at 40.2 GW, the lowest for the month since at least 2012 and down 11% on the year.

Year-to-date generation is now running 8 TWh behind 2018 after ending August flat.

The outlook for Q4 reactor availability was above previous years back in September.

Maintenance delays, extended 10-year overhauls and safety checks at the 3.6 GW Cruas NPP following an earthquake November 11 have since tightened the availability outlook.

EDF has cut its 2019 generation goal twice since late October, from 395 TWh to a range between 384-388 TWh.

FRESH DELAYS

On Monday, EDF delayed planned return dates at Tricastin 1 by four days to December 8 and at St. Laurent 2 by four days to December 6.

Nuclear generation reached 42 GW Monday with two reactors (Golfech 2, Dampierre 3) ramping up after returning from maintenance.

French December contracts hit a month-high of Eur51.87/MWh Friday with a short-lived cold snap set to boost demand this week above 80 GW, the highest so far this winter.

However, temperatures are expected to recover above norms next week reducing peak demand to 75 GW, a forecast by grid operator RTE showed.

Reactor availability for January has also tightened with at least six French units not scheduled to return this year adding to extended maintenance in Belgium as well as another reactor closure in Germany.

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

--Edited by Jonathan Loades-Carter, jonathan.carter@spglobal.com