French electricity production fell by 15% in 2022 to its lowest level in 30 years due to a record number of outages at its nuclear fleet, according to a report published on Thursday by grid operator RTE.

Nuclear operator EDF, which runs the country's 56 reactors, saw the availability of its power plants sharply reduced by delayed maintenance due to the COVID-19 crisis and corrosion problems last year.

The share of nuclear power in the country's electricity production stood at 63% in 2022 against 69% in 2021, RTE said.

Nuclear power output last year was its lowest since 1988. The reduced availability saw France become a net importer of electricity for the first time since 1980, with a net import balance of 16.5 TWh. The bulk of imports took place in July, August and September, RTE said.

French electricity consumption also fell in 2022 to 459.3 TWh. It declined by 1.7% year-on-year and by 4.2% when compared to the pre-COVID five-year average, with a national effort for energy savings playing a crucial role, the grid operator said. (Reporting by Forrest Crellin and Benjamin Mallet, editing by Silvia Aloisi)