* France-UK power link capacity halved
* New developments confirm possible cuts, demand-response
* French winter power supply tight due to nuclear outages
By Bate Felix
PARIS, Dec 1 Power cuts in France are more
likely this winter because of problems with electricity cables
linking the country to the United Kingdom and prolonged outages
at nuclear reactors, French power grid operator RTE said on
RTE warned in November it could impose cuts this winter due
to shortages caused by a record number of nuclear reactors being
offline for maintenance or safety checks.
Britain's National Grid, which operates the 2,000 megawatt
(MW) Interconnexion France-Angleterre (IFA) with RTE, said on
Tuesday that four of its eight cables had been severed, cutting
capacity by 50 percent until the end of February.
"The latest assessments based on information provided by
electricity generators on November 28 have confirmed the
prospect of resorting to exceptional, incremental measures in
order to deal with a cold spell or contingencies in generation
capacity," RTE said on its website on Thursday.
RTE, which had been counting on France's capacity to import
up to 12,200 MW of power, said the updated analysis factored in
a reduction in the amount of electricity it will be able to
import, as well as lower projected supply from neighbours.
The grid operator has said the exceptional measures it may
implement include rolling power cuts and asking some industrial
companies to cut their electricity consumption.
European power grid lobby ENTSO-E said on Tuesday that
Europe would be able to meet higher-than-normal electricity
demand this winter, even with tight France nuclear power supply.
But RTE said some other countries may have resort to
importing power at the same time as France, putting more strain
on the overall balance of electricity supply and demand.
"Several bordering countries may not be able to export
electricity to France due to supply demand balance constraints,
and some may themselves have to fall back on imports during
similar periods to France," RTE said.
"In the event of a cold snap ... RTE may deploy incremental,
exceptional measures to guarantee supply-demand balance and
maintain an electricity supply to as many customers as
possible," it said.
RTE said it was on high alert for supply problems in
December and that the grid could come under more strain in
January and February due to low import capacity.
(Reporting by Bate Felix; editing by David Clarke)