PARIS (Reuters) – French utility EDF <EDF.PA> will cut output at the two reactors at its St. Alban nuclear power plant from Tuesday evening due to scorching temperatures and dry weather which have limited its use of river water to cool the reactors.
EDF uses water from the Rhone to cool the two 1,335 megawatt (MW) capacity reactors at St. Alban. The utility warned last week that output at the plant could be affected by the low flow rate of the Rhone river.
Its use of water from rivers as coolant is regulated by law to protect plant and animal life and it is obliged to cut electricity generation in hot weather when water temperatures rise, or when river levels and the flow rate are low.
The company said it would reduce power generation at the St. Alban 1 reactor by 400 MW from Tuesday evening until Thursday. Generation at the St. Alban 2 reactor will be cut by 450 MW from Tuesday until mid-morning on Wednesday.
Other EDF nuclear power facilities along the Rhone include the Bugey, Cruas and Tricastin plants, each of which has an installed capacity of 3,600 MW.
Lack of rainfall and hot weather in southeastern France have push groundwater, which feeds the river, to very low levels and cut its flow rate.
France, like much of western Europe, is bracing for another heatwave this week which is expected to increase electricity demand for cooling.
French and German spot electricity prices for day-ahead delivery <TRFRBD1> <TRDEBD1> hit their highest since February on Tuesday as the forecast rise in power demand coincided with reduced nuclear availability.
EDF, which operates France’s 58 nuclear reactors that account for over 75% of its electricity needs, said on Monday that it could prolong planned outages at its two Golfech nuclear reactors because of the heatwave.
(Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Jan Harvey)