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EUROPE POWER-French spot power prices jump to four-year high on nuclear outage worries
October 7, 2016 / 4:21 PM / a year ago

EUROPE POWER-French spot power prices jump to four-year high on nuclear outage worries

* French spot for Monday hits 100 euros/MWh

* Concerns over French nuclear power supply persist

* Cold snap expected early next week

* Forward prices down alongside fuels (Adds details, price updates)

By Bate Felix

PARIS, Oct 7 (Reuters) - European prices for spot power delivery early next week hit new highs on Friday with the French price briefly touching a four-year high on strong demand due to forecasts for cold weather and lingering uncertainty about outages at French nuclear plants.

France’s spot power price for Monday delivery jumped 52 euros early on Friday to 100 euros ($111) per megawatt hour (MWh), its highest since February 2012 in a rare spike more typically seen during peak demand on very cold winter days.

The French baseload power price for Monday later retreated to 73.25 euros a megawatt hour (MWh) but still closed 19 euros higher than the price paid for Friday delivery. The German contract gained 7.75 euros 46 euros/MWh, compared with the price paid for Friday delivery.

Prices for other short-dated French power futures eased back from earlier highs, but remained at high levels, with the two-week contract at 65.40 euros and the four-week contract at 53 euros. Very short-dated power supply contracts can spike higher

Spot and forward electricity contracts have surged in the past week on worries that France, which depends on nuclear for 75 percent of its power needs, could face tight supply on increased outages and output cuts from its 58 nuclear reactors.

French nuclear power availability was about 39.9 gigawatts (GW), or 63.17 percent of capacity on Friday, compared with 44.8 GW, or about 71 percent, the same time a year ago according to Thomson Reuters tabulation

“Many plants are scheduled to resume production soon: if they don‘t, prices will keep pushing up,” a trader said, adding that concern about supply from France’s EDF was the main driver.

The French state-controlled utility declined to comment.

The company has cut its power output estimate for 2016 and 2017 after saying it had to carry out more tests on 12 nuclear reactors during their planned outages in the coming months, which could affect the length of the outages at some plants.

French grid operator RTE reported an unplanned outage at EDF’s 900 megawatts (MW) Cruas 2 reactor on Friday. It was expected to resume production later on Friday.

A restart at the 1,500 MW Chooz 2 reactor, offline since Thursday, was delayed until Monday and at the 1,300 MW Paluel 3 reactor, restart was also delayed until Saturday.

German wind power availability for Monday is expected to fall by 5.2 GW to 1.6 GW, contributing to the scarcity.

Along the forward power curve, prices fell alongside carbon, coal and oil futures.

The German benchmark Cal‘17 year-ahead baseload contract was down 2.56 percent at 30.50 euros/MWh, while the less liquid equivalent French contract edged down 1.2 percent to 41 euros /MWh.

Front-year EU carbon allowances fell 2.73 percent to 5.70 euros a tonne.

Coal, which accounts for more than 40 percent of German power generation, fell 2.68 percent to $66.25. (Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Ruth Pitchford and Geert De Clercq)

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