November 28, 2016 / 1:45 PM / 4 years ago

France turned to fossil fuels in October to offset nuclear shortfall

PARIS (Reuters) - The use of coal, oil and gas to generate power in France jumped nearly 40 percent last month to compensate for a slide in nuclear and hydropower production, network operator RTE said in its monthly report on Monday.

France, which typically depends on nuclear power for more than 75 percent of its electricity needs, is heading into winter with reduced nuclear capacity after safety watchdog ASN ordered a dozen reactors to be shut down and checked.

RTE said nuclear power production fell 16 percent in October from the same period a year ago while hydropower output tumbled a record 21 percent year-on-year to 3,096 gigawatt hour (GWh), its lowest level since 2009.

As a result, France turned to coal, oil and gas to compensate for the shortfall, RTE said, pushing fossil fuel power generation up 37 percent from a year earlier to 5,061 GWh.

Fears about low nuclear power supply during the peak demand months over winter pushed French and European power prices to record highs this month and forced utility EDF to cut its production forecast for 2016.

Wind and solar power generation also rose during October, by 7 percent and 15 percent respectively from 2015.

RTE said although France remained a net power exporter in Europe during the month, exports fell 89 percent from October last year to 552 GWh year-on-year, the lowest since February 2012 when there was a cold snap.

It said France was a net importer of electricity from the United Kingdom for the first time since then.

Reporting by Bate Felix; editing by David Clarke

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