Nuclear outages impact EDF’s earnings

31 July 2017

Electricite de France (EDF) saw earning for the first half of 2017 fall by almost 22% to €6.99bn ($8.17bn) with two nuclear plants remaining closed and retail electricity prices impacted by competition. The company on 28 July identified negative market conditions and obligations to sell nuclear-generated electricity to competitors at a regulated price as a key factor. 

Gravelines 5 and Fessenheim 2 were offline for the entire period undergoing checks concerning manufacturing problems and the falsification of documents at the Areva-owned Creusot Forge foundry, which supplied key components for the plants. As a result, EDF's nuclear output fell by 8TWh (3.9%) to 197.2TWh. Paluel 2 was stopped in May 2015 for a routine outage and is not expected to restart before February 2018 after one of its steam generators fell inside the reactor building during maintenance.

However, given the recent restart of Bugey 5 and Gravelines 5, along with increased output at other reactors, EDF said it expected to meet its 2017 nuclear production target of 390-400TWh.

The 880MWe Bugey 5 pressurised water reactor, which had been out of service for almost two years, was restarted after receiving approval from the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) following repairs to its containment. During tests conducted in 2011 as part of its third ten-yearly inspection, a high leakage rate was detected from the inner liner of its containment due to a corroded seal. In response, ASN ordered more tests to be carried out during the unit's next maintenance and refuelling outage which began in August 2015. The unit has been offline since then after further problems were identified. EDF, in April 2016  reported the results of its investigation into the cause of the leaks to ASN and proposed applying a composite coating around the base seal of the containment vessel and the use of a fluid "protective" lime mortar to resolve the problem. ASN the solution and repairs were carried out earlier this year. EDF in June sent ASN a programme for monitoring the effectiveness of the repairs.

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