February 27, 2018 / 5:31 PM / 19 days ago

UPDATE 1-France to meet record power usage with Spanish, German imports

* France to see second-highest level of power consumption

* Massive imports from Germany, Spain to boost French output

* Cold snap to end in second half of the week (Adds detail on imports)

By Geert De Clercq

PARIS, Feb 27 (Reuters) - France will cover expected peak power consumption with massive power imports from Spain, Germany and other countries as frigid temperatures boost electric heating, RTE data showed on Tuesday.

France has Europe’s most temperature-sensitive electricity grid as about a third of French homes are heated with electric radiators and every one degree Celsius drop in outside temperature requires an extra 2,400 megawatt hours in power, equivalent to the power consumption of the city of Paris.

New RTE forecasts show maximum forecast electricity consumption of 95,000 megawatt hours (MW) on Tuesday evening at 1945 Central European Time, which would be the second-highest power consumption level since the 102,100 MW record on Jan 8, 2012.

On Wednesday, peak usage of 94,626 MW is forecast for 0930 CET, but peak consumption will level off in the second half of the week as temperatures rise.

An RTE spokesman said about 9,500 MW of power is available for import during Tuesday evening’s peak, compared to maximum interconnection capacity of about 12,000 MW.

The French transmission grids may not use all that capacity Tuesday evening and are expected to import some 3,500 MW from Germany and Belgium, 2,300 MW from Spain and 1,500 MW from Switzerland during peak usage time, for a total of more than 7,000 MW.

France’s highest-ever power import was not Jan. 8, 2012, when the country imported a maximum of 8,260 MW, but 12,119 MW on Dec. 2, 2017, when low availability of utility EDF’s nuclear plants combined with low power prices abroad led RTE to use its interconnection capacity to the fullest.

For Wednesday morning, 9,000 MW of foreign power generation capacity is available for import, an RTE spokesman said.

France currently has power generation capacity of about 90,000 MW available, from nuclear, hydro, thermal and renewable energy power sources.

EDF’s total nuclear capacity is 63,260 MW from 58 nuclear reactors, but because of safety- and maintenance-related outages, nearly 11,000 MW of nuclear capacity is offline.

EDF has postponed the start of maintenance and refueling outages of two reactors, Gravelines 6 and Tricastin 4, by a week to March 3. (Reporting by Geert De Clercq Editing by Laurence Frost and Ken Ferris)

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