PARIS Feb 24 France was a net electricity
importer for a second straight month in January as a prolonged
cold spell pushed peak demand to its highest in five years
against a backdrop of low nuclear and hydropower supply, grid
operator RTE said on Friday.
France imported a record 0.95 terrawatt-hour of electricity
last month on a net basis, RTE said, adding that the country had
been increasingly dependent on Britain to cover its shortfall
since November 2016, when several nuclear reactors were offline.
RTE said France, usually a net power exporter thanks to its
58 nuclear reactors, was a net importer in its exchange with
Spain for the first time since April 2016.
Peak electricity demand in France hit 94.2 gigawatts on Jan.
20 during a cold snap, its highest level since February 2012,
RTE said in its monthly report.
Fossil fuel power generation, which has been rising steadily
since May, reached its highest since February 2012 at 8.3
terrawatt-hours as France cranked up gas- and coal-fired plants
to compensate for the fall in nuclear and hydropower.
France, which depends on nuclear power for over 75 percent
of its electricity needs, had to seek other means to guarantee
power supply after nuclear safety regulator ASN demanded the
temporary shutdown of a dozen reactors for safety checks.
Nuclear power production fell 2.6 percent year-on-year in
French hydro reservoirs were at their lowest level in at
least 10 years, causing hydropower output to fall 8.1 percent in
January compared with a year earlier.
Electricity production from wind turbines fell 29 percent
year-on-year, while solar power output rose 38 percent.
The French spot power price hit its highest since February
2012 at 206 euros ($218) per megawatt-hour (MWh) on Jan. 25. The
day-ahead contract was trading at 45.50 euros/MWh on
($1 = 0.9446 euros)
(Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Dale Hudson)