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France’s woes with nuclear power plants means more energy uncertainty for Europe

The utility cut its forecast as it realised that “stress corrosion” issues affecting some of its reactors will require more checks and repairs. Irish Examiner, THU, 19 MAY, 2022. LARS PAULSSON, JESPER STARN AND FRANCOIS DE BEAUPUY

The woes facing the nuclear power stations at France’s EDF — Europe’s largest electricity producer — will increase the pressure on war-hit European energy markets after the summer. 

EDF, which is the backbone of Europe’s integrated power system, cut its nuclear output target for a third time this year, the latest sign that Europe’s power crisis is worsening. 

Western Europe has for decades relied on exports of power from EDF’s nuclear stations. The cuts are another blow to European energy security just as the region is weaning itself off Russian supplies of everything from natural gas to coal and oil because of the war in Ukraine.

Less output from EDF is sending prices higher just as soaring inflation is pushing up costs for everything from petrol to food. It could get even worse in winter as France, traditionally an exporter of electricity, may be forced to import more from its neighbours.

French prices are the most expensive in Europe, with contracts for the period almost double levels in Germany. The utility cut its forecast as it realised that “stress corrosion” issues affecting some of its reactors will require more checks and repairs. The outlook for the following year remains unchanged for now, the firm said. 

“We fine-tuned the repairs to be made,” Regis Clement, deputy head of the company’s nuclear division, said during a media conference. “We’ve got to cut more pipes” to carry out further checks “and more repairs to handle”, he said.The big test will come when temperatures start to fall toward the end of the year. It won’t take many days of cold weather to jeopardise French power supplies, according to Emeric de Vigan, chief executive officer at French energy analysis firm Cor-e.“With such poor nuclear availability, if we reach 2 degrees Celsius below normal in the winter for a few days we could be in trouble, it would be really tight,” Mr de Vigan said. Paying customers and factories to lower consumption are steps that likely will need to be taken, he said. ……………….

May 21, 2022 - Posted by | business and costs, France, politics international, safety

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