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France to become net power importer after 20+ years

Power

05 Aug 2022 14:58

Photo: Pixabay

Photo: Pixabay

Paris

05 Aug 2022 14:58

(Montel) France looks set be a net power importer this year due to record low output at nuclear and hydropower facilities, an analyst said on Friday.

Data from TSO RTE indicated France had been a net exporter since at least 2001 – when records go back to.

Net imports could reach “about 20-25 TWh” in 2022, said Eylert Ellefsen of Montel’s Energy Quantified (EQ).

This compared typically with typical annual net exports of 40-50 TWh, with them totalling 41.6 TWh in 2021 for instance.

The country had been importing more power from neighbouring countries than exporting since November 2021, except in February and May.

In spring, domestic utility EDF slashed its nuclear production outlook to 280-300 TWh – the lowest in more than 30 years – due to stress corrosion issues at several reactors and increased maintenance due to backed up outages caused by the Covid-19 crisis.

Power production slump
“French power production in July was really poor, maybe the lowest for the past 25 years,” said Ellefsen, pointing to the poor nuclear output and reduced hydropower production due to an ongoing drought.

Last month, for example, nuclear output dropped to its lowest point since 1987, while hydropower output hit a 26-year trough.

To meet the dearth in supply, the country relied massively on gas-fired plants, which ran more than twice as much as in July last year, generating 2.4 TWh, equating to about 10% of demand.

Ellefsen expected nuclear production to average 33 GW in Q4, compared with 43 GW in the corresponding period last year.

There are concerns for both nuclear and hydropower production ahead, with hot weather causing cooling issues at reactors and curbing reservoir levels, with forecaster Meteo France predicting the hot, dry spell would continue.

The country was currently on a “crisis” footing due to the extreme weather, the government said earlier today.

Issues at France’s ageing nuclear reactors are compounding fears of a power supply crunch this winter as Europe is also facing a gas shortage due to a cut in gas flows amid the Ukraine war.

French power prices for the winter have surged on the crisis, with levels at an unprecedented EUR 1,000/MWh.

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