(Adds details, Nuclear output in Britain, background)
PARIS, May 6 (Reuters) - French nuclear power generation fell 15.5% year-on-year in April to 26.9 terawatt hours (TWh) due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on electricity demand, utility EDF said on Wednesday.
State-controlled EDF, which operates France’s 57 nuclear reactors, said cumulative nuclear power generation since the start of the year added up to 128.1 TWh, down 10.7% compared with the same period last year.
The fall in output is “due to a drop in demand and prolonged (nuclear reactor) outages linked in particular to the health crisis,” EDF said.
Electricity consumption has plunged across Europe due to shutdown measures ordered by governments to halt the spread of the virus.
EDF has said it expects its nuclear power output in France this year to fall to a record low of around 300 TWh, from an initial expectation of 375 to 390 TWh before the outbreak.
The utility added that its nuclear generation in Britain fell 18.7% year-on-year in April to 3.7 TWh, while total output since January was at 15.6 TWh, down 5.3% compared with the same period in 2019.
EDF’s subsidiary in Britain, EDF Energy has been asked to temporarily reduce output at its Sizewell B nuclear plant in the east of England to help balance the grid and prevent blackouts, due to the fall in energy demand, EDF and grid operator National Grid said separately on Wednesday. (Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by GV De Clercq and Elaine Hardcastle)