Europe’s heatwave begins to cripple its energy infrastructure

Europe’s energy infrastructure is beginning to strain under the extreme heat that blankets the continent.

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(Bloomberg) — Europe’s energy infrastructure is beginning to strain under the extreme heat that blankets the continent.

Power stations operate at low levels to control temperatures, while gas pipelines limit flows – just as the demand for energy to cool homes and offices increases.

Typically, power plants experience maintenance shutdowns during the summer months when demand drops, but it’s not that simple this year. With Europe desperately short of gas and electricity prices near record highs, every bit of available generation capacity is valuable.

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In France, which gets around two-thirds of its electricity from nuclear power plants, some reactors have been given temporary waivers to water discharge rules, allowing them to discharge water used to cool the facilities into surrounding waterways. despite rising river temperatures.

Read more: French nuclear shutdowns extend into next week as temperatures soar

Gas pipelines are also affected, with the Interconnector linking Britain and Belgium reducing flows for a third day on Tuesday due to high temperatures. Meanwhile, Norwegian system operator Gassco AS reported a drop in North Sea gas supply at the UK’s St. Fergus terminal, citing hot weather.

In Germany, the Rhine – a key route for bringing coal from major ports in the Netherlands and Belgium – is at its lowest level in years. This means some power plants are not getting enough fuel, threatening to derail the country’s plan to build up stocks before winter.

Read more: Heat wave pushes Europe’s energy system to its limits

In addition, the German public utility Uniper SE has brought forward the shutdown of its Datteln-4 coal-fired power plant, initially scheduled for October, to July. The move will ensure it is “well prepared for the start of the next heating season” in winter, the company said. The installation should be online again on August 1st.

Mary I. Bruner