PARIS (Reuters) - French utility EDF may have to shut down electricity generation at its 2,600 megawatt (MW) Golfech nuclear power plant in the south of France from Tuesday July 23 because of high temperatures forecast on the Garonne river.
The power utility uses water from the river to cool the two reactors at the plant, but French meteorological services have forecast hot and dry weather next week, with a risk of a heatwave in the southeastern parts of the country.
“Due to the temperature forecasts on the Garonne, production restrictions are likely to affect EDF’s nuclear power plant at Golfech from Tuesday July 23,” the company said, adding that both reactors could be unavailable.
EDF operates France’s 58 nuclear reactors, which account for more than 75 percent of the country’s electricity needs. Its use of water from rivers as a reactor coolant is regulated by law to protect plant and animal life.
The company is obliged to reduce output from its reactors when water temperatures rise or when river levels and the flow rate are low.
Low flow rate for the Rhone river because of drought conditions has also curtailed power generation in recent weeks at EDF’s St. Alban, Bugey, Cruas and Tricastin nuclear power plants. St Alban has capacity of 2,600 MW while the other three each have 3,600 MW of capacity.
In a separate note on its website on Friday EDF said that power generation could be reduced by about 30 percent at its 1,300 MW St. Alban 1 nuclear reactor on Saturday.
Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by David Goodman