EDF says that nuclear power generation at its French reactors in August fell by 37.6% year on year to 18.1TWh, mainly due to the impact of the discovery of stress corrosion at some plants.

Total nuclear generation in France since the start of the year was 191TWh, down 20.2% compared with January-August 2021.

However, EDF expects its 2024 nuclear output to reach 315-345TWh, according to an online note. This would be up from the 280-30 TWh projected for 2022 and the 300-330TWh forecast for 2023. Both 2022 and 2023 nuclear output forecasts have been revised downwards several times this year, while current production is at only 48% of available capacity, with France's nuclear output in 2022 at its lowest in 30 years.

Despite the expected increase in 2024, electricity production will still not have recovered to its level prior to 2019. These production levels remain well below those recorded in 2018 (393 TWh) and even in 2019 (379.5 TWh), when the scheduled maintenance programme began for the 2019-2024 period. EDF said this is an estimate for the time being, the "associated maintenance schedule (of the reactors) being in the process of being consolidated".

"The 2024 nuclear production estimate is explained by a dense industrial programme and the continued implementation of the nuclear reactor control programme in the context of the stress corrosion phenomenon", discovered last winter, an EDF spokesperson explained to AFP.

The corrosion problems discovered last winter and this maintenance programme, delayed by the Covid crisis, have made a large part of the nuclear fleet unavailable affecting EDF's nuclear production, which will reach a historic low in 2022. EDF revised its production forecasts for 2022 downwards to between 280 and 300TWh, and "probably the lower half of the range", the spokesperson noted.

Half of France’s 56 reactors were shut down as of 13 September because of corrosion problems or for scheduled maintenance. This situation poses threats to the electricity supply this winter in France, against a backdrop of the European energy crisis and soaring prices.