May 25, 2018 / 7:38 AM / 4 months ago

French summer electricity demand seen stable: RTE

PARIS (Reuters) - French electricity demand is expected to remain stable this summer and the country could be forced reduce output at some nuclear sites, power grid operator RTE said on Friday.

Peak power demand from June to August is expected at 55 gigawatts (GW) if temperatures remain at seasonal levels, RTE said in its summer outlook report.

In the case of a heatwave, with temperatures rising by 7 to 8 degrees Celsius above seasonal norms, power demand could increase by 500 megawatts (MW) for every 1 degree above normal and peak demand could reach 60 GW, it said.

Peak demand last year was at 59.5 GW on June 22.

RTE, an independent unit of state-controlled utility EDF, said that electricity supply is expected to improve from that in summer 2017 because of increased nuclear, wind, solar and hydropower generation.

Nuclear power generation, which accounts for more than 75 percent of France’s electricity needs, is expected to increase by about 4 GW compared with the same period last year.

Installed wind power generation capacity has increased by 1.7 GW to 14 GW year on year while solar power availability rose by 900 MW to 7.9 GW in the same period.

Hydropower generation has also improve, up by about 2 GW from last year, RTE said.

France could be forced to halt output at some nuclear generation sites during low demand periods, such as weekends, and when wind and solar sources are at peak output, said RTE operations director Jean-Paul Roubin.

“If temperatures remain at seasonal levels, we are unlikely to have any supply issues,” Roubin told reporters on a conference call, adding that France will have enough capacity to export electricity during a heatwave.

Roubin said that coal and gas-fired power generators are available but are likely to be underutilized during the period, adding that France’s last oil-fired plant was closed in April.

Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by David Goodman

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