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French nuclear output slumps to multi-year low in May

French nuclear output hit its lowest point since 2012 in May, falling 22.4% year on year to 24.6 TWh, as power demand remains affected by the coronavirus crisis, preliminary data from TSO RTE data showed on Monday.

May nuclear output was 8.6% lower than the previous record low, in records going back to 2012, observed in April, at 26.9 TWh, according to Montel calculations.

On average, nuclear represented 66% of the country’s generation.

In the first five months of the year, nuclear output fell 12.9% to 152.7 TWh, compared with January-May 2019.

The availability of the country’s nuclear fleet this month was down 8.4 GW year on year, or 18.9%, at 36 TWh, showed data from Montel’s Energy Quantified (EQ).

Currently, 19 of EDF’s 58 reactors are offline – accounting for 22.2 GW in capacity – due to various maintenance works, 10-year inspections and modulation for fuel saving.

In March, operator EDF revised down its annual atomic output target by around 20% to 300 TWh, owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

Wind output rises
Meanwhile, France’s wind output increased in May, totalling 2.6 TWh, compared to 2.3 TWh in May 2019. It represented 7% of the generation mix on average, RTE’s figures showed.

Solar generation totalled 1.5 TWh, up 0.2 TWh year on year and accounted for 4% of the mix, while hydropower generation was up 1.1 TWh compared to the same month last year, at 6.7 TWh, or 18% of the total.

Power demand, meanwhile, dived 14.4% year on year in May to 30.4 TWh. For the January-May period, demand was 3.9 TWh lower, or 9.1%, at 39.1 TWh, according to RTE.

During the first phase of the lockdown – late March – to curb the virus spread, power demand dropped by around 20%, before recovering to around 10-13% below normal by the end of April, the TSO said.

The country’s demand, which was 9% below normal in mid-May, would be around 7.2% lower on an annual basis in 2020 due to the pandemic, according to EQ.

Source: French nuclear output slumps to multi-year low in May