Can EDF stick to its program for restarting nuclear reactors?

Can EDF stick to its program for restarting nuclear reactors?

Can EDF stick to its program for restarting nuclear reactors?

EDF management promised this on Wednesday 14 September: the 26 French nuclear reactors currently closed should have resumed electricity production during the winter. Great news, as France faces an exceptional unavailability of its fleet of 56 reactors.

And if the operator of the RTE network has advised that the company “effective” of this program for the return to the grid will play an essential role in the management of electricity this winter, the speed of this restart is surprising. Does EDF have the means to keep its promise? What effect will the complete reopening of the French nuclear fleet have? “L’Obs” interviewed Nicolas Goldberg, an energy expert at Colombus Consulting.

The continuation after the announcement

What do you think of the schedule presented by EDF?

We can say that this is a high estimate by EDF, knowing that restarting the reactors is not only their responsibility. This also depends on the inspections of the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) and its agreement on the restart times of the reactors following their stress corrosion cracking (defect identified in 2021-2022 at the level of the welds on the cooling water injection pipes emergency, which led to the closure of several reactors as a precaution). It is therefore difficult to say whether all commitments can be kept. It sounds a bit ambitious, but that doesn’t mean the estimate is wrong.

Why half of France’s nuclear reactors are closed (and why it’s worrying)

If EDF manages to meet its deadlines, will the electricity produced guarantee our supply for the winter?

We can never be 100% certain because, even if we had a well-functioning nuclear fleet, the first safety factor for our supply is the ability of our neighbors to export electricity to us. Having said that, we would be even more serene. And if we went back to 56-57 gigawatts (versus 26 GW today) in February, the riskiest winter period would be safe.

The continuation after the announcement

For the month of November, however, even taking the high EDF calendar which estimates a power of 36-37 GW, it is extremely low. In the event of a cold spell during this period, we are not immune from supply failures.

What forms could possible power outages take this winter?

Could restarting extinguishing reactors have an effect on the price of electricity?

Absolutely. The first type of price is that of the day for the following day, this depends on the order in which the means of production are called. In other words: the more nuclear and renewables you have compared to coal and gas, the lower the price will be.

On future prices (up to three years in advance) phenomena of anticipation come into play. If we start by saying that we have excellent nuclear availability, it could bring prices down. For now, the prices of the last quarter of 2022 and the first quarter of 2023 are reaching completely aberrant levels.

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