France has temporarily lifted environmental rules to ensure five of its nuclear power plants can stay running as the country grapples with a deepening energy crisis.
The country’s nuclear regulator has approved a request to keep the power stations in operation, even if the water they emit exceeds permitted temperature limits.
Under French rules, energy giant EDF must cut down or even halt nuclear output when river temperatures reach certain levels to ensure the water used to cool the plants will not harm the environment when put back into the waterways.
High river temperatures have in recent weeks have threatened to jeopardise France’s already low nuclear output at a time when nearly half its reactors are offline because of corrosion problems and maintenance.
This threatened to exacerbate the crisis sparked by Russia’s gas cuts, with temperatures expected to climb into the mid to high 30s this week across much of France.
The latest move will grant some relief to the European power market as the continent braces for another wave of high temperatures.
Earlier today, France’s one-year forward baseload power prices hit €543 per MWh, while Germany’s one-year forward baseload power climbed to €414 per MWh – new all time high prices for power in the EU’s two largest economies.
This comes with French nuclear availability being at its lowest in four years this summer, forcing France to import power when usually it would be exporting to neighbouring countries.
On some of the hottest days of the year, France has bought 10 gigawatts of power, equivalent to the output from about eight nuclear reactors.