Nuclear: EDF could cut production again because of the heat wave

The heat wave also affects nuclear power plants. And with it the production of EDF. The French electrician could in fact be forced to temporarily reduce its production of nuclear power, he said in a message to markets this Wednesday. Worse, a reactor at the Tricastin plant could even be shut down.

“Due to the high temperature forecasts on the Rhône, production restrictions at the Tricastin nuclear power plant and even the shutdown of a unit are likely to occur from August 6, 2022,” writes EDF. However, the electrician specifies that a minimum production of 400 megawatts (MW) will be maintained “while maintaining two coupled sections” to ensure the stability of the grid. As a reminder, the Drôme nuclear power plant has 4 reactors of 900 MW.

Several businesses affected

Electricité de France had been warning since late last week that the plant’s production could be affected by the heating of the rivers used to cool the reactors. French regulations require reactors to be reduced or shut down when river temperatures reach certain thresholds, to ensure that the water used does not harm the environment when discharged into the rivers.

“So far, only Tricastin Reactor #2 has modulated its power to match its discharge order (twice for a few hours on July 29 and 31),” a spokesman told AFP. But not only the Drôme power plant is affected. In fact, EDF has also warned of possible “cuts in production” at the Saint-Alban (Isère) power station, also on the banks of the Rhône. Here, too, a minimum production is planned.

Possible exceptions

The Golfech power station (Tarn-et-Garonne) is also considering such restrictions due to high temperature forecasts for another river, the Garonne. Each plant has its own legal limit values ​​for the water outlet temperature, which must not be exceeded in order not to heat up the surrounding water and to protect the fauna and flora. The power plants pump to cool the reactors before rejecting them.

The regulations provide for possible temporary exceptions at certain locations. Such exemptions were recently granted to four power plants to allow them to operate at high temperatures. The electricity transmission system operator RTE therefore asked EDF in mid-July to keep the nuclear power plants Golfech, Blayais and Saint-Alban in operation.

RTE fears turbulence in the network. Especially since half of the reactors are still unavailable given the ongoing maintenance of EDF’s nuclear fleet and the number of reactors still shut down due to corrosion problems. French nuclear power production may indeed be the lowest in 30 years in 2022, according to the company’s latest estimates.

price peak

The possible shutdown of a Tricastin reactor and other production cuts should therefore weigh heavily on the electricity market again at a time when Europe is going through one of the worst energy crises in its history. On the French and German markets, prices again rose sharply. On Wednesday at 1 p.m. the spot price for electrons in France exceeded 500 euros per megawatt hour (€/MWh). For comparison: In the previous year, it was €89/MWh at the same time on the same day.

These new production cuts are forcing EDF, Europe’s largest producer of nuclear power, traditionally an exporter, to import even more electrons. As a result, Germany may have to burn more gas to maintain grid stability, despite promising to reduce its dependence on Moscow.

In order to avoid the blackout, Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz even set the course for extending the service lives of the last three nuclear power plants in operation in the country on Wednesday. As a reminder, Berlin has set itself the goal of not using the atom at all by the end of the year.

Kaddouri Ismail

I am Ismail from Morocco, I work as a blogger and online marketer. I am also the founder of the “Mofid” site, in which I constantly publish many important articles in the field of technology, taking advantage of more than 5 years of experience working in the field. I focus on publishing in a group of areas, the most important of which are programming, e-marketing, digital currencies and freelance work.

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