Temperatures rise at EdF

3 September 2003

This summer's heatwave across Europe has led to increased electricity demand, while production has to be reduced.

Europe's largest surplus electricity producer, France, is particularly hard hit by the soaring temperatures, which have been reaching 40°C for much of August. Electricité de France (EdF) has warned that the heatwave would have "serious consequences for the French electricity supply system." The country's nuclear power stations, which generate over three-quarters of France's electricity, have been operating at reduced capacity as cooling water discharge temperatures reach environmental limits.

After an emergency meeting on 11 August, the government granted an exceptional waiver from the legal requirements to four thermal power stations and six nuclear sites (Bugey, Tricastin, Golfech, St Alban, Cruas Meysse and Le Blayais), allowing them to discharge water one degree hotter than the 27ºC regulatory limit. The environment minister, Roselyne Bachelot, said "sizeable blackouts" were possible and appealed to people to restrict their use of electricity. In addition, power exports were cut by more than half.

Germany has been similarly affected. Both Philippsburg 1 and Neckarwestheim reduced output to 80% and the Obrigheim plant had to be taken offline.

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