Photographer: Balint Porneczi/Bloomberg

How EDF’s Sinking Nuclear Output Sent Power Prices to Records

  • Start of 5 reactors delayed after watchdog asks for more data
  • EDF cuts nuclear output target for third time amid halts

Extended outages at some of Electricite de France SA nuclear reactors have sent European power prices to records. On Thursday, the world’s biggest operator of atomic plants cut its 2016 output target for a third time after the regulator asked for more information on five units that had completed required safety checks.

ASN, the watchdog, requested extra checks after an investigation found flaws in large steel components made by Areva SA and Japan Casting & Forging Corp. Nuclear availability was 69 percent on Friday, compared with 81 percent at the same time last year, according to grid data compiled by Bloomberg. EDF’s 58 reactors generate about 73 percent of the nation’s power.

Here’s a timeline of events:

June 23

The regulator requests investigations at 18 of EDF’s reactors, citing potential anomalies with steam generators used at the facilities. Additional tests are required after issues were discovered at Areva’s new-build project Flamanville-3, which has a similar design. EDF says the reactors are still safe to operate.

July 20

EDF shares fall the most in two weeks after the company cuts its annual nuclear output target. Due to the extended outages needed to demonstrate the steam generators can operate safely, the 2016 target is reduced to 395-400 terawatt-hours from 408-412 terawatt-hours.

Aug. 3

Pira Energy Group data shows that France’s July nuclear output fell to the lowest level in 15 years as seven of 18 Areva-made units potentially affected by steam generator irregularities are kept offline.

Sept. 21

EDF cuts its 2016 nuclear output target for a second time to 380-390 terawatt-hours, while at the same time reducing its profit forecasts for the year amid extended safety checks at two units at its Tricastin station. The year-ahead power price rises to a 9-month high.

October 18

ASN asks EDF to bring forward halts at five reactors to carry out safety checks by January 18, 2017. The utility says it has restarted six reactors after completing inspections, seven awaiting checks.

Grid data shows France produced the most power from fossil fuels for September in 32 years to help meet demand as nuclear generation dropped.

Oct. 31

French power prices for next-month delivery, already at the highest in eight years, gain the most ever in October and also send prices soaring to record levels in Germany and the U.K.

Nov. 2

Start dates for five reactors that had completed safety checks delayed to the end of the year after the regulator requested more information.‎

Nov. 3

EDF shares drop to their lowest level since April after the company revises down its output target for third time to 378-385 terawatt-hours, and cuts its 2016 profit forecast for the second time in less than two months.

To come:

Nov. 8

Grid operator RTE to comment on nuclear halts at winter briefing in Paris

Table of 18 reactors affected:

ReactorAvailability StatusStatus of ChecksDates (time offline or start date)
Fessenheim-1OnlineChecks still neededDec. 10-Jan. 3
Tricastin-2OnlineChecks still neededDec. 23-Jan. 15
Gravelines-4OnlineChecks still neededDec. 17-Jan. 10
Civaux-1OnlineChecks still neededDec. 23-Jan. 15
Tricastin-4 OfflineChecks ongoingDec. 31 
Bugey-4OfflineChecks completeDec. 31 
Civaux-2OfflineChecks completeNov. 30 
Dampierre-3OfflineChecks completeNov. 30
Gravelines-2OfflineChecks completeDec. 31
Tricastin-1OfflineChecks completeDec. 31
Tricastin-3 OfflineChecks completeDec. 31
St. Laurent-2OfflineChecks completeNov. 12
Chinon-1OnlineChecks complete
Blayais-1OnlineChecks complete
St. Laurent-1OnlineChecks complete
Chinon-2OnlineChecks complete
Dampierre-2OnlineChecks complete
Dampierre-4OnlineChecks complete
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