Germany to return to full nuclear availability on Thursday

London (Platts)--12 Jun 2018 223 pm EDT/1823 GMT

Germany's 1.4-GW Philippsburg-2 nuclear plant and 1.3-GW Emsland A reactor are currently both scheduled to come back on Wednesday evening local time after their return dates have been changed multiple times, EEX Transparency data showed Tuesday.

The Philippsburg-2 had its latest return date set for June 14 and Emsland A for June 12 before EEX Transparency updated the restart to June 13, 11:00 pm 2100 GMT) and 9:00 pm local time, respectively.

Nuclear output has been 40% lower year on year in May, due to the refueling and maintenance work at the two plants and because of the closure of the 1.3-GW Gundremmingen B reactor.

Their return to the grid will bring nuclear availability in Germany to 9.4 GW following their full ramp-up on Thursday, with all the remaining seven nuclear reactors on grid, according to EEX.

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Fundamentals in the German short-term market have been bullish for the last few weeks due to a low-wind scenario, higher generating fuel costs and a multitude of outages, supporting above-average prices.

Week 23 -- the seven days to last Sunday -- had the highest average spot price since 2011. With wind set to remain below 10 GW this week, the plants' return will increase supply sharply.

However, apart from the overlap of nuclear outages from end-May to mid-June, maintenance will be more evenly spread in 2018 than last year, putting less overall pressure on the supply system. Maintenance outages stretch from the end of February to late September.

Last winter, German reactor availability fell to its lowest since the early 1980s with two reactors (Philippsburg 2 and Brokdorf) needing major additional repairs. Outages overlapped as the expiry of the fuel tax by the end of 2016 incentivized nuclear plants to operate in stretching mode and postpone planned repairs and refueling to the start of 2017.

This year, Philippsburg-2 is the plant with the longest maintenance, with over one month off the grid.

Stopping operation at the end 2017, the Gundremmingen-B reactor was the second modern reactor to lose its operating license under the nuclear phase-out timetable set in 2011 following the Fukushima nuclear crisis, which reversed Germany's plan to extend the life-span of its nuclear power plants.

The next reactor to permanently close after Gundremmingen-B is Philippsburg-2 by end-2019, with three more reactors closing by end-2021 and end-2022.

--Inga Freund,
--Edited by Jonathan Dart,

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