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Strikes at French nuclear plants – what’s at stake?

 Forrest Crellin, 19 Oct 22, PARIS, (Reuters) – Strikes at France’s nuclear power plants have affected about a third of its reactors, in many cases delaying maintenance work and complicating operator EDF’s (EDF.PA) efforts to boost production ahead of winter.

Currently 20 out of 56 reactors have been impacted, a union official said on Wednesday. Of these, maintenance plans of 17 have been disrupted, with some seeing their restart schedule delayed by a few days and some by up to three weeks.

THE EFFECT ON SUPPLY

France’s nuclear output was already expected to hit a 30-year low in 2022 due to a record number of reactor outages for corrosion issues and planned maintenance, at a time when Europe is facing an energy crisis because of the war in Ukraine.

Rolling strikes over wages by the FNME-CGT union at some plants have added to the problem.

Maintenance delays at nine reactors have caused the loss of 4.4 terawatt hours (TWh) of nuclear power generation – nearly a quarter of the power produced in September – compared to the maintenance schedule before the strikes began, data from consultancy Energy Aspects showed.

France is a net importer of electricity and the strikes will further boost power imports, particularly from Britain, the consultancy said.

Power grid operator RTE warned on Tuesday that prolonged strikes further delaying the restart of reactors could have “heavy consequences” for electricity supply over the winter.

Britain’s National Grid has also cited maintenance issues at French nuclear reactors as a factor that could affect UK energy supplies this winter……………..

the strikes raise a question mark over power availability for November………………….

WHAT’S THE COST?

FNME-CGT secretary general Sébastien Menesplier said a one day outage at an EDF reactor usually cost about 1 million euros ($976,600) but that at current electricity prices that could be “5 to 10 times more”.

With the baseload November power price around 587 euros ($573) per megawatt-hour (MWh), the cost of a reactor not running is probably not far from 10 million euros per day, said Emeric de Vigan, vice president of power at data and analytics firm Kpler.

However, French forward baseload contracts have fallen from highs over 1,000 euros in late August, as maintenance delays at EDF have been mostly be priced in.

“With that being said, events like this come at the worst possible time, when French nuclear is needed the most, and even more so for the coming months,” Rystad analyst Fabian Ronningen said.

WHAT’S THE LEGAL POSITION?

Workers are legally obligated to ensure the continuity of the public electricity service, requiring them to raise production or resume operations to return reactors to the grid to avoid power cuts………………………………. more https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/strikes-french-nuclear-plants-whats-stake-2022-10-19/

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October 19, 2022 - Posted by | employment, France

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