French power production cut by latest strike over nuclear reform

FILE PHOTO: France's oldest Electricite de France (EDF) nuclear power station, outside the eastern French village of Fessenheim, France, February 13, 2020. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

PARIS (Reuters) - Strikes by workers protesting against a French nuclear reform plan reduced nuclear power generation by more than 1.7 gigawatts (GW) by 1614 GMT Wednesday plus 1 GW at hydropower stations, data from power group EDF showed.

The Penly 1 and Civaux 1 reactors are operating at limited capacity due to the strike, reducing available production by 1,715 megawatts (MW).

The Penly 1 reactor, with a capacity loss of 1,070 MW, is expected back online by 2100 GMT, while the Civaux 1 reactor, accounting for 645 MW of lost production, is expected to remain offline for the duration of the strike, the data showed.

The disruption represents around 3.8% of available production capacity as of Wednesday evening, the data showed.

France was a net power exporter throughout the day Wednesday, the data showed.

The strike is expected to carry on through the day Thursday. Demand is forecast at around 63 GW Thursday, down 1.7 GW from the Wednesday forecast due to rising temperatures.

The Penly 1 reactor was also the first nuclear reactor affected on Dec. 8 during the previous strike, which ultimately had a limited impact on power production.

The reform plan that provoked the strike involves splitting EDF between its nuclear and renewable energy activities. Unions fear that would pave the way for a dismantling and privatisation of the group.

Opposition Socialist parliamentarians said on Tuesday they would submit legislation calling for a referendum on the reform which they fear could pave the way to its dissolution.

Reporting by Forrest Crellin, editing by Gus Trompiz and Bernadette Baum