Warm weather could mean output cuts at German nuclear plants: traders

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German wholesale power prices for August are up sharply pointing to potential output reductions by some nuclear reactors in the country which rely on water to keep them cool, traders said on Monday.

With the weather forecast to be warmer than normal in August traders see “water cooling issues” as an issue for the nuclear power plants.

“The first nukes are scaling down already ...... due to cooling water issues,” one trader said.

August delivery German baseload power was up 3.4 percent at 49.1 euros a megawatt hour (MWh), Thomson Reuters data showed on Monday. [EL/DE]

But nuclear power plant operators in Germany said reactor reductions due to the hot weather were minimal, at least so far.

E.ON subsidiary PreussenElektra said its Isar 2 1,485 megawatt (MW) reactor in Bavaria was shut last Saturday for two-weeks of regular maintenance, which was planned irrespective of the weather. It is due to restart on July 27.[POWER/DE]

The Brokdorf 1,440 MW reactor in the northern Schleswig-Holstein state, is cutting is output or load by 112 MW up to July 20, of which 40 MW are attributable to hot Elbe river water, PreussenElektra said in response to a Reuters query.

The Grohnde 1,430 MW reactor in the northern Lower-Saxony state on the river Weser will reduce its output by between 171 and 355 intraday on July 17-19, of which 50-60 MW is due to high cooling water temperatures, PressenElektra also said.

The remainder of the reduction at Grohnde is due to different maintenance measures unrelated to the time of year, it said.

South-western utility EnBW said that on Saturday, July 21, block 2 of its 1,400 MW Neckarwestheim 2 reactor will be reduced by 400 MW for maintenance work at the condensator in the conventional part of the plant.

The work was not weather-related, a spokeswoman said.

According to EnBW’s plans, the plant will be recommissioned by Monday morning on July 23, which would limit supply impact as demand is low at the weekend.

Germany has just under 10,000 MW of reactors left and will gradually phase them out by 2022.

Seven old plants, some of which were vulnerable to cooling water issues, were already phased out in the summer of 2011 following the Japan nuclear crisis at Fukushima.

Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Jane Merriman