European Power Prices Soar on Setbacks at French Nuclear Giant
(Bloomberg) -- French and German electricity prices jumped after Electricite de France SA revised down the production forecast for its nuclear fleet that’s vital to keep the lights on in Europe.
The world’s biggest producer of nuclear power reduced its estimate by about 8% after finding defects at some reactors. It’s another blow for the continent, which is already facing an historic energy crisis with natural gas stocks at their lowest in more than a decade for this time of year.
The German February contract rose as much as 22% to 235.50 euros ($269.29) a megawatt-hour, while the contract for the next quarter climbed as much as 23% to 183 euros on European Energy Exchange AG. French power for February surged as much as 27%. The contract April to June delivery traded as high as 191 euros, a 24% gain.
“There is uncertainty in establishing the impact with very volatile prices recently,” said Meike Becker, an analyst at Bernstein Autonomous LLP.
Fresh extension of outages at several reactors means that at least nine reactors will be offline at the start of April, cutting almost a fifth of the total output, according to data from grid manager RTE. As recently as Tuesday, French Ecology Minister Barbara Pompili said the country has “too many” nuclear reactors offline, as the government was trying to gain control of the crisis.
During routine once-a-decade maintenance at its Civaux and Penly plants, EDF found defects near welds on pipes of the safety injection system circuits, it said in a statement Thursday. The start of Penly-1 was delayed by more than two months to May 30. Civaux-2’s resumption was postponed by nine months to the end of this year.
EDF now expects to generate 300 to 330 terawatt-hours from the plants this year, down from an earlier estimate of 330 to 360 terawatt-hours.
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