French nuclear outages threaten again
French nuke outages last winter caused extreme price spikes and volatility. Could it happen again this year:
- Availability: France has 63GW of nuclear capacity across 58 plants, a key component of the NW European generation mix. Fleet availability this week is around 65%, well below normal entering Q4.
- 2016 recap: Extended EDF outages relating to safety concerns over Areva forged reactor components saw French nuclear fleet availability remain under 70% through most of Q4 2016 and fears of deeper & more prolonged closures.
- Outages: Current outages do not relate to identification of new safety anomalies. They are a combination of some delays with EDF planned outages and a temporary flood threat for the 3.6GW Tricastin plant.
- Restarts: 12 reactors are due back in Oct & Nov subject to regulator approval. But the market is wary of EDF timelines given a record of poor communications and delays.
- Market response: French winter prices have risen by 10% since the start of Sep, focused in Oct – Nov outage period. The response from neighbouring markets (e.g. UK, DE, BE) has been more muted.
Imminent risks due to safety related outages are lower entering this winter. But there remains an ongoing threat of further anomalies being uncovered as EDF undertakes a comprehensive review of all components from Areva’s Creusot Forge foundry by the end of 2018.