French nuclear output above 50 GW for first time since February

London (Platts)--4 Dec 2017 730 am EST/1230 GMT

French nuclear output rose above 50 GW for the first time since February with seven more reactors scheduled to return over the coming eight days, data from nuclear operator EDF and grid operator RTE showed Monday.

However, EDF delayed three reactor returns by a combined 11 days including unit 2 at the Tricastin NPP amid a decision pending by the nuclear safety regulator ASN to rule on works by EDF to strengthen the embankment on a canal next to the plant in the South of France.

The fresh delays announced since Friday are:

Tricastin-2 (0.9 GW) delayed from Dec 4 to Dec 6, 23:00

Chooz-2 (1.5 GW) delayed from Dec 3 to Dec 8, 23:00

Cruas-3 (0.9 GW) delayed from Dec 5 to Dec 9, 23:00 EDF has now scheduled the remaining seven reactor returns over the next eight days, with four reactors scheduled to remain offline going into 2018.

Over the weekend, EDF returned the 0.9 GW Chinon-3 reactor, bringing returns in the regulator-requested review of documents relating to nuclear parts manufactured at the Le Creusot forge to seven with all 12 reactors scheduled to return in 2017 having received clearance, a spokeswoman for EDF told S&P Global Platts last Thursday.

None of the findings so far have called into question the safe operation of the reactors, EDF said.

The spokeswoman also added that EDF is awaiting the decision by the ASN regarding the return of its 3.7 GW Tricastin nuclear power plant.

In late September, ASN requested a temporary shutdown while EDF strengthened a dike on a canal next to the plant, with EDF having completed the works in late October and the ASN previously saying it will finalize its assessment of the works in early December.

ASN was not available to comment when contacted by Platts.

EDF also returned over the weekend its 1.3 GW Paluel-3 reactor, which suffered an unplanned outage last Tuesday.

Meanwhile, power demand was forecast to peak at 83.7 GW Monday evening with slightly milder temperatures expected later this week, but another possible cold snap next week lifting the demand forecast above 85 GW next Tuesday, RTE data shows.

French nuclear output in November fell to a record low just above 30 TWh with output so far this year trailing 2016 by over 5 TWh, putting EDF's annual output target of 383 TWh at risk, an analysis of monthly production data from grid operator RTE shows.

November's nuclear output averaged around 42 GW. In order to achieve the lower end of EDF's reduced 2017 nuclear output target, reactor output would need to average 57 GW in December, the data shows.

PIRA Energy Group, a unit of S&P Global Platts, in its European Electricity Monthly Outlook published December 1 assumes that the December output will be around 49.8 GW.

EDF operates France's 58 reactors and after two record high years for nuclear output in 2014 and 2015 has struggled with extended outages in 2016 and 2017.

--Andreas Franke,

--Edited by Maurice Geller,

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