Drought and overheating of river water may force some of the nuclear power plants that supply two-thirds of France’s electricity to shut down temporarily in the wake of the European heatwave.
The extreme temperatures are beginning to abate, but shortages and excessive temperatures of river water needed to cool reactors are worrying EDF, the largely state-owned electricity company.
If the hot weather continues, households, offices and factories will require large quantities of electricity for air conditioning and ventilation.
River levels have fallen in eastern, central and southern France, the Journal du Dimanche newspaper reported on Sunday.
The Civaux nuclear plant is cooled by water from the River Vienne, now close to a historic low following the heatwave.
EDF uses two dams to augment the river water, but the local authority has complained that the company uses the river almost exclusively for its power station, jeopardising farming, drinking water supplies, leisure activities and tourism.
Residents of areas near the River Loire have made similar criticisms.