April 30, 2019 / 1:36 PM / 6 months ago

French electricity demand fell 11 percent in March on mild weather

* Sunny, windy weather boosts renewables

* Thermal generation fell 31 percent

* Low electricity demand weighs on spot prices

PARIS, April 30 (Reuters) - French electricity consumption fell 11 percent in March to 43.18 terrawatt hours (TWh) compared with the same month a year ago due to prolonged mild weather last month, said the country’s RTE electricity grid operator in its monthly report.

The fall in demand led to a drop in French nuclear and thermal generation during the month, it said, adding that the decrease mainly affected generators used during peak consumption periods.

Thermal - coal, gas and oil-fired generation fell 31.1 percent in March, while nuclear generation was down 1.6 percent. Hydropower supply rose 3.3 percent, RTE said.

Long sunny spells in most of France during the month, and especially windy weather in the northern part of the country, boosted renewable solar and wind power generation.

Wind power generation rose to a monthly record of 4.49 TWh, up 45.2 percent compared with output in March last year, while power output from solar panels surged during the month by nearly 50 percent to 1.10 TWh.

The low demand weighed on French spot electricity prices during the month, said the RTE, adding that mild weather across most of Europe pushed prices lower. Several instances of negative power prices were recorded in several countries.

The RTE said the French spot price was down 13 euros during the month to an average of 33.9 euros a megawatt hour (MWh), its lowest since April 2018. (Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

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