Elise Denjean, with AFP 3:01 p.m., February 8, 2022

EDF has announced the shutdown of three nuclear reactors for checks, following corrosion problems on safety systems encountered on other units.

In total, eight reactors are shut down.

These problems are likely to increase the strain on France's electricity supply this winter.

A supply already complicated by a busy and disrupted maintenance schedule due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

EDF announced on Tuesday the upcoming shutdown of three additional nuclear reactors for "checks" following corrosion problems on safety systems encountered on other units.

The Chinon 3, Cattenom 3 and Bugey 4 reactors will be shut down over the next few months, according to data published on the EDF website.

"We will stop them to carry out checks," said a spokesperson.

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8 reactors shut down in France

These checks follow a documentary review of the entire French nuclear fleet in search of corrosion problems already confirmed on at least four reactors, currently shut down.

Three other reactors will also be checked, but during shutdowns that were already scheduled.

The shutdown of Flamanville 2 will however be extended by 5 weeks.

Finally, EDF extended by five months the shutdown of two reactors where corrosion problems had already been detected (Penly 1) or suspected (Chooz 1).

The first will not work until October 31, 2022 and the second until December 31.

EDF had lowered its forecast for nuclear production in France this year on Monday evening "as part of its control program on the nuclear fleet", following corrosion problems on the safety system identified on certain reactors.

The forecast has been reduced to 295-315 terawatt hours (TWh), from 300-330 TWh previously.

EDF, which initially aimed for a production of 330 to 360 TWh, had already revised its forecast downwards on January 13.

Concretely, France will therefore return to a level of production equivalent to that of 1991. 

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Towards a risk of tension for supply? 

These problems are likely to increase the strain on France's electricity supply this winter, already complicated by a busy maintenance schedule and disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The operator of the RTE electricity network had indicated on Friday that it was maintaining its "vigilance over the end of winter" for supply, due to a high number of shut down nuclear reactors, while noting that "the weather forecasts for the period are favourable".

“There is no risk of a blackout in France because we have put in place a certain number of mechanisms to avoid this”, assured Tuesday the Minister of Ecological Transition Barbara Pompili on France Info.

Still, the news does not come at the best of times for Emmanuel Macron: the president must indeed announce the details of his nuclear recovery plan on Thursday. 

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