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Drop of 14 TWh in French hydro, UK nuclear generation fails to dent EDF H1 earnings

Highlights

French hydro down 32% on year at 20.1 TWh

UK nuclear down 19% on year at 24.5 TWh

French nuclear FY outlook confirmed at 395 TWh

London — Sharp declines for UK nuclear and French hydro generation failed to dent EDF's first half 2019 earnings, the French utility said Friday.

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French hydro generation fell 32% on the year to 20.1 TWh, with H1 2019 the second-driest six month period over the last 30 years after an exceptionally wet first half to 2018.

UK nuclear output meanwhile was down 18% on the year at 24.5 TWh due to extended outages at Hunterston B and Dungeness B.

The longer-than-expected outages at the UK's Hunterston and Dungeness reactors as well as sub-par French hydro conditions had a combined negative impact of Eur560 million, EDFCFO Xavier Girre said, adding that the company expects hydro conditions in H2 2019 similar to average H2 conditions in previous years.

French nuclear generation was up 0.5% on the year at 203.7 TWh for the first six months.

The company confirmed a 2019 nuclear target of 395 TWh.

Group EBITDA was up 0.1% at Eur8.3 billion ($9.2 billion), with EDF reporting a strong performance in its trading unit.

It confirmed an annual outlook of Eur16 billion to Eur16.7 billion EBITDA.

In new-build updates, the utility said commissioning of the 1.6 GW Flamanville-3 EPR in Normandy "cannot be expected before end 2022."

The project is facing fresh delays after nuclear regulator ASN in June ruled welds in the containment area had to be repaired before commissioning.

EDF said three scenarios for carrying out the repairs were being considered, with a detailed timeline expected in the coming months.

EDF's 3.2 GW Hinkley Point C project in the UK, meanwhile, reached a milestone June 21 with the start of reactor building construction (JO) for unit 1.

Unit 2 was on track to reach JO in June 2020.

"Risk of deferral of delivery [is] estimated at 15 months for unit 1 and 9 months for unit 2," EDF said.

Such deferrals would entail additional costs of GBP700 million.

Unit 1 is scheduled to start by end-2025.

In offshore wind, EDF reported progress with three of its 500 MW projects on the French Atlantic coast clearing final legal hurdles in the courts earlier this month, while theutility has just won the 600 MW Dunkirk tender.

Definitive approval of permits by France's highest judicial review body (the Council of State) for the Saint-Nazaire, Fecamp and Courseulles-sur-Mer projects had cleared the way for final investment decisions, EDF said. The projects are being developed in partnership with Canada's Enbridge.

EDF had 4 GW of renewables in construction worldwide as of June, including massive solar projects in Morocco and Mexico, it said.

It continued to work on a restructuring plan to be presented by year-end as requested by the government.

This is expected to involve dividing the company into nuclear and renewable energy businesses, with nuclear retained under state ownership.

Meanwhile, EDF expected details of the government's reform of the ARENH mechanism, boosting regulated volume release to third parties from 100 TWh to 150 TWh, to be approved this autumn.

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-- Andreas Franke, andreas.franke@spglobal.com

-- Edited by James Leech, james.leech@spglobal.com