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EDF extends some nuclear outages until 2017

09 Sep 2016 18:45 (+01:00 GMT)
EDF extends some nuclear outages until 2017

London, 9 September (Argus) — French nuclear power availability is likely to be lower than anticipated in the fourth quarter of 2016 and early 2017, as several outages at large nuclear plants, run by French state-controlled utility EdF, were extended in the first few days of September, as 27 reactors have suspected irregularities or anomalies.

French nuclear availability currently stands at just under 50pc, prolonging the trend of low nuclear availability seen during the summer months, with over 32 units offline out of the 58 nuclear reactors operational in France.

Of the 21 units with suspected irregularities in a steam generator manufactured by the Creusot Forge factory, only the 400MW Golfech 2 reactor is online. The steam generators at another 18 units are suspected of having a similar anomaly as that found in the third-generation European pressurised reactor (EPR) Flamanville 3, currently in construction, according to the French nuclear safety authority (ASN).

But most of the outages were initially planned to end by October, but have instead been extended. Some units are now not scheduled to return to production until the first quarter of 2017.

Fessenheim 2, with a capacity of 880MW, is now planned to return to capacity on 31 March 2017, compared with an expected end of outage previously planned for mid-October 2016, while the restart date for 910MW Gravelines 5 has been pushed back until the end of March 2017, instead of 1 November as originally planned.

The restart date of 880MW Bugey 5 was already pushed back in July until 28 February 2017, instead of the previously expected end date this month.

The Triscastin 1 and 3 units, with a capacity of 915MW each, have had their maintenance prolonged, but should resume production on 21 September and 19 September, respectively.

The spread between prices in the fourth quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017 had consistently narrowed in August, and 1Q only stood at a €1/MWh premium over 4Q on 30 August. But recent announcements of extended outages into 1Q are likely to have supported 1Q values, the premium of which over 4Q hovered around the €2/MWh mark in the last few sessions.

Despite lower nuclear availability in France, the French 4Q premium over Germany has averaged at €7.62/MWh since Argus started assessing the contract in October 2015, below the premium of 4Q 2015 averaged at €11.44/MWh at expiry.