October 17, 2012 / 4:36 PM / 7 years ago

Europe Power-French spot up on record nuclear outages

* French nuclear power availability falls to 67 pct
    * German prompt falls as mild weather dampens power demand

    PARIS, Oct 17 (Reuters) - French electricity spot prices
rose on Wednesday, decoupling from lower German prompt prices,
boosted by a sharp decline in French nuclear power capacity
caused by a series of unplanned outages, traders said.
    French baseload for Thursday delivery was up 1.25
euros to 51 euros per megawatt hour (MWh). The equivalent German
contract fell by 3.6 euros to 41.40 euros per MWh in the
wholesale market.
    "The current nuclear power availability level is the lowest
seen in the past three years for the time of year. But what is
preventing prices from increasing further is low demand related
to mild weather conditions so far," a London-based trader said.
    Unplanned outages at EDF's 900-MW Bugey 5 nuclear
reactor on Wednesday and its 900-MW Tricastin 3 reactor
overnight contributed to push France's online nuclear production
capacity to a record low 67.12 percent or 42 GW. 
    This compares to the 46.2 GW reported at the same period
last year, and 43.7 GW in 2010, the trader said.
    An EDF spokeswoman declined to comment on the high level of
outages at its nuclear fleet, saying it would only communicate
on the matter when RTE, its transport arm, would release its
winter situation report on Nov. 8.
    The head of French grid operator RTE, Dominique Maillard,
told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday that EDF needed to
ensure its fleet was ready in six weeks time to face a possible
demand spike in case of a cold snap. 
    The prompt price rise in France was capped by expectations
for lower consumption in the two countries, however, with
temperatures set to increase by 3.2 degrees Celsius on average
in Germany and 2 degrees in France on Thursday.
    "Temperatures are getting warmer, moving well above normal
values for the CWE area," Thomson Reuters Point Carbon analysts
said.
    In Germany, solar power output was expected to rise, more
than offsetting lower wind electricity production, according to
Point Carbon data.
    Along the forward curve, prices were mixed, as oil prices
trimmed gains following the release of data showing U.S domestic
oil production was at its highest level since 1995. 
    Germany's benchmark for 2013 delivery baseload BY1DE-1Y
fell by 10 cents to 47.15 euros/MWh while the French contract
BY1FR-1Y firmed by 33 cents to 50.68 euros.
    Societe Generale analysts said on Wednesday electricity
consumption in the 10 European countries it monitored was 0.2
percent lower year-to-date from the same period last year. 
    "The weakness in European electricity consumption has been
quite evident in some countries as economic activity was slow to
pick up in September after the summer recess," the analysts said
in a research note.
    In Germany, power consumption to July this year is down 5
percent compared to the same period in 2011, they said.
    "Consumption figures for Germany deteriorate as we move
through 2012."

 (Reporting by Michel Rose and Muriel Boselli; editing by Jason
Neely)
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