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EDF cuts 2020 French nuclear target to 375-390 TWh after weak 2019

Highlights

20-30 TWh/year impact from complex outages, constraints

2019 fleet availability at record-low 68.6%

2020 hedged price up at Eur46/MWh

London — French nuclear operator EDF has set its 2020 French nuclear output target to a range of 375-390 TWh after 2019 output fell to a near-record low of 379.5 TWh, it said Friday.

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A year ago, EDF forecast 395 TWh for 2019 and 2020.

A heavy maintenance schedule including six 10-year overhauls and other constraints are set to affect the fleet of 58 reactors by 20-30 TWh a year, it said.

"For 2020 and the following years, the duration of the planned maintenance will be adjusted to take into account feedback from the previous year amid a level of uncertainty carrying out a particularly dense and complex maintenance," it said.

In addition, France's oldest nuclear power plant (1.8 GW Fessenheim) is set to shut (reactor 1 on February 22, reactor 2 on June 30), while the new 1.6 GW EPR at Flamanville has been delayed to 2023.

In 2019, nuclear availability fell to a record-low 68.6% from 71.1% in 2018 with fourth-quarter availability hit by unprecedented maintenance overruns, it said.

Five reactors are still offline for 2019 maintenance, while 2020 maintenance is already underway.

There were seven, once every 10 years stops in 2019, with the first overhauls after 40 years of operation (Tricastin 1) completed in December.

Only six are scheduled this year in addition to 19 "simple annual refueling stops" compared with 15 in 2019 and 20 more in-depth annual maintenances compared with 22 in 2019.

In addition, France's oldest nuclear power plant (1.8-GW Fessenheim) is set to shut (reactor 1 on February 22, reactor 2 on June 30), while the new 1.6-GW EPR at Flamanville has been delayed to 2023.

Higher achieved nuclear prices

Average hedged prices increased from Eur40/MWh in 2018 to Eur43/MWh in 2019 and Eur46/MWh for 2020, it said based on a notional volume of fixed-cost generation output of 420 TWh/year in France, it said.

This is not the average realized sale price, but based on captured hedging contracts closed before the beginning of the delivery year subject to very great uncertainty about EDF's net exposure to the ARENH (regulated price for nuclear), it added amid a number of caveats.

For 2020, EDF sold 126.2 TWh under the ARENH, including 26.2 TWh for grid losses with the mechanism capped at 100 TWh of sales at price of Eur42/MWh.

EDF's 2019 French hydro output fell 14.6% year on year to 39.7 TWh despite a sharp rebound in Q4.

EDF achieved its 2019 group target with EBITDA up 8.4% on year to Eur16.7 billion ($18.1 billion) and targets a range of Eur17.5 billion-Eur18 billion for 2020 EBITDA, it said.