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French nuclear outages: winter 2024 and powerbalance outlooks

Eylert Ellefsen
Archived blog post. This blog post has been transferred from our previous blogging platform. Links and images may not work as intended.

Outlooks before the winter

The outlooks for French power supplies last winter (Q1-23) were quite bullish because of high gas prices and uncertainty around the nuclear situation due to massive outages for corrosion-checks. A potential cold winter also contributed to a strong risk premium in forward markets.

However, winter 23 turned out rather normal, gas prices declined and nuclear capacity recovered to some extent. In the table below you can see some key numbers for the Winter-24 outlooks under normal weather conditions. These are compared to actual numbers for winter 2023. For 2024, we have also included the forward prices for power and gas as a comparison to the actual 2023 numbers.

Currently, the risk premiums for gas and power for Q1 2024 are considered rather moderate. The difference between gas and power for the 2024 forwards remain similar to the 2023 actuals. With this in mind, it is worth noting that the key fundamentals: French temperature and German wind power, came out close to normal levels during Q1-23 on average.

French nuclear production for 2023 is expected to come out close to 320 TWh, up from 279 TWh in 2022. For 2024, EDF has announced a further improvement to somewhere in the range of 315-340 TWh.

Yearly powerbalance 2022-2024

Taking into account the actual powerbalance so far this year, estimates based on normal weather scenarios, general consumption outlooks, expected capacity development of wind/solar and the EDF nuclear targets, we have calculated the following powerbalances for France for 2023 – 2024. Statistics for 2022 have also been added to show the yearly development.

We have assumed 318 TWh of nuclear production for 2023 and 330 TWh for 2024 by studying availability data (REMIT-data) and modifying the capacity to fit the yearly EDF targets.

France was a net importer for 2022 due to low nuclear availability and hydropower, despite falling consumption. For 2023 the nuclear availability has increased by about 35 TWh compared to 2022, while consumption has continued to decline. As a result, France will return to its usual status as a net exporter this year (+ 47.9 TWh).  

We also expect a stronger export situation next year (+70.2 TWh) as total production will increase by nearly 40 TWh from 2023. Our estimate for nuclear is about 330 TWh, but notice the strong increase in hydropower production (+ 15 TWh = 30%) due to a very wet period lately. Consumption is expected to slowly recover to the levels observed before the energy crisis 2022.

Nuclear production profiles 2023 and 2024

The chart below displays the monthly nuclear availability levels (REMIT), actual production data so far, and EQ’s forecasted production levels until the end of 2024.

The next chart gives a better comparison between the yearly profiles. The 2024 profile is partly adjusted to the average profile for 2017-2021.

Nuclear outages winter 2023/24

The table below includes EQ’s estimates of the production levels that will be required to fulfill the yearly EDF targets. For instance, the current REMIT-curve (20.11.23) is based on only 3 plants being unavailable during Jan-24, while EQ estimates indicate there could be up to 8 plants offline during Jan-24.

These numbers seem to show that the EDF production targets suggest that more nuclear plants will be offline during the winter than the current REMIT numbers say.

Powerbalances winter 2022/2022 – Quarterly GWh/h

The table below shows the quarterly powerbalances for 23/24 (average GWh/h), and the monthly profile for Q1 24 (Jan-Mar). These numbers show us that the nuclear production during Q1 24 is estimated to be about 5 GW higher than it was during Q1 23 on average. The net export level during Q1 also seems to be very stable at about 6.5 GW (under normal weather conditions) which is about 6.0 GW higher than the 2023 export level.

Exchange outlooks winter 2024 – comparisons to 2023

Although we saw an average net export of about 1.0 GWh/h during Q1 23, the daily variations were large. This is shown in the chart below, taken from the Energy Quantified platform. The daily base exchange level varied between 12 GWh/h of export and 7.5 GWh/h of imports. Such variations are expected for Q1 24 too, but we expect the average curve to be lifted by about 6.0 GWh/h due to more nuclear capacity and an improved powerbalance.

The variation band for consumption is around +/- 10 GWh/h, so even in a very cold spell the security of supply seem to be well covered, and extremely spiking prices will most likely be avoided.

Final words

EQ will follow the powerbalance and nuclear situation in France closely this winter. The nuclear availability has been improved by around 5 GW compared to winter 2023, meaning a normal supply situation will most likely be secured even if France were to see a particularly cold spell this winter.

If you have any questions regarding our consumption outlook and modelling, please contact us emailing

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