France’s Nuclear Power Output Rises, Easing European Energy Woes

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France’s Nuclear Power Output Rises, Easing European Energy Woes

France’s nuclear fleet is coming back online, with Bloomberg estimating that 73% of the country’s 56 reactors were available on Friday. That is significantly more reactors than in recent months, which eases some of the concerns about power supply in France and Europe.

To compare, only 40% of France’s 56 reactors were available in August 2022, when many reactors were under routine or unplanned maintenance, river water levels were low, and temperatures in rivers were too high to be used for reactor cooling.

Low nuclear power availability has been an issue for the French power system for most of the past year, as more than half of the country’s reactors were offline at one point in the autumn due to repairs or maintenance.

The higher nuclear power availability in France, a major producer of electricity from nuclear energy, eases concerns about power shortages this winter.

France is now more confident about its power supply for the coming weeks compared to a month ago, thanks to reduced consumption and increased nuclear power generation, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne told local Franceinfo radio earlier this week.

“I am more confident over the coming weeks,” France’s PM told the radio when asked about the country’s energy supply. 

Last month, Xavier Piechaczyk, the head of grid operator RTE, said that France could face the risk of power cuts this winter when the electricity supply may not be enough to meet demand.

In November, RTE said that the French electricity grid is at higher risk of strained power supplies in January 2023 than previously estimated due to lower nuclear power generation. 

Delays in routine maintenance work at France’s nuclear power stations will lead to a slightly lower nuclear availability this winter than expected back in September, the grid operator said. This raises the risk of a power supply crunch in January, RTE said in its latest winter preparedness analysis in November.

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