Nuclear closures cause electricity price rises

23 November 2016

Nuclear power plant closures have caused energy prices in France to rise 81% since the start of October, an analytics firm has said. 

The shortage of supply has also affected prices in the UK and Germany because it has reduced the amount of electricity available for export, said Mintec Global.

It said the French grid operator RTE has issued warnings that certain measures, including imposed power cuts, could be introduced to ensure supply can meet energy demand, and that industrial energy users could be paid to switch off machinery or curb usage.

The shortages have been caused by the temporary closure of a number of nuclear power plants run by the state owned EDF. Mintec has said 20 out of the firm’s 58 plants had been shut down for testing in October, and that a further four are expected to close in the coming months.

The closures are in part due to safety concerns raised by the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN), the country’s nuclear regulator, over the integrity of the steel used in some steam generators.

ASN said in October it wanted to inspect 12 EDF reactors, and in its latest update said inspections were either in progress or had been completed at seven of the reactors.

EDF reported that 18 reactors were involved, five of which were still offline and not expected to be restarted until the end of December. As a result, EDF has downgraded its target electricity output for the year from 380-390 terawatt hours to 390 terawatt hours to 378-385. 

EDF have not yet responded to a request for further comment from SM.

The UK government recently approved a deal with EDF to build the country’s first new nuclear power plant in 20 years. Joint funded by the EDF and the state owned China General Nuclear Corporation, Hinkley Point C is predicted to cost £18bn and will provide 7% of the UK’s energy needs when completed.

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