What are the consequences of high temperatures on the reactors of EDF nuclear power plants?

It will have escaped no one, the French are again facing a heat wave. And temperatures also have an impact on nuclear production.

You should know that the Tricastin nuclear power plant has 4 reactors of 900 MW each. Since Friday, EDF had already warned that the production of the plant could be affected due to the heating of the rivers, used to cool the reactors.

EDF also warned of possible “production restrictions” at the Saint-Alban power plant (Isère), also on the banks of the Rhône, with however a minimum production also planned.

Other plants are concerned

Such restrictions are also being considered at the Golfech power plant (Tarn-et-Garonne) this time due to high temperature forecasts for another river, the Garonne.

Each plant has its own regulatory water discharge temperature limits that must not be exceeded, so as not to heat up the surrounding waterways and to protect the fauna and flora. The power plants indeed pump water to cool the reactors, before rejecting it.

The regulations provide for possible temporary derogations on certain sites and such derogations were recently granted to four power stations so that they can operate during very hot weather.

The intense and widespread heat has significantly impacted the continent’s electrical system.t”, underlined Fabian Ronningen, of the firm Rystad Energy, as electricity prices continue to rise in Europe.

Why electricity prices are at record highs

Nuclear power is far from the only one involved. Low levels for hydroelectricity have “started long before the start of summer” but “heat waves in June and July added pressure, with southern Europe hit particularly hard“, recalled the expert in a note.

Another impact of hot weather is the increase in electrical demand, mainly due to increased air conditioning needs.“, remarks Fabian Ronningen.

Electricity prices have continued to climb, reaching record highs, particularly in France.

Electricity for delivery next year in France was trading at more than 520 euros per megawatt hour, against less than 300 euros in mid-June, on the futures markets.

This trend can be explained by many factors: in addition to the effect of heat, it is fueled in particular by high gas prices and the low availability of the French nuclear fleet, with 12 reactors out of 56 shut down for problems corrosion.

Regarding the rise in electricity prices, the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, spoke last July on LCI: “it will be necessary, from January 1, 2023, that on electricity and on gas, we will have to help more those who need it. There must also be increases for those who can afford them. This means that we will take into account the level of income of the people“.

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