April 14, 2020 / 7:02 AM / 2 months ago

French utility EDF withdraws financial targets for 2020 and 2021

PARIS (Reuters) - French state-controlled utility EDF withdrew its financial targets for 2020 and 2021 on Tuesday as the economic turmoil caused by the coronavirus pandemic impacted key areas of its business.

FILE PHOTO: A view shows France's oldest Electricite de France (EDF) nuclear power plant near the eastern French village of Fessenheim, France February 20, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

EDF said it was pulling all financial targets, including the lower end of its core earnings (EBITDA) forecast range of 17.5 billion euros ($19 billion) in 2020.

“The economic turmoil that follows from the current sanitary crisis results in a drop in power demand and significantly impacts many of the group’s businesses, namely nuclear generation ... (and) new-build projects and services,” EDF said in a statement.

The company had said on March 23 it would lower its 2020 nuclear power production target of 375 to 390 terawatt hours (TWh) of nuclear production in France, but has not given a precise figure.

EDF operates France’s 58 nuclear reactors that account for about 75% of the country’s electricity needs. The sharp downturn in economic activity meant forecasts for nuclear generation were under review and would be adjusted significantly below the initial assumption, the group said.

EDF’s nuclear generation in France tumbled 13.8% to 30.6 terawatt hours (TWh) in March compared with the same month a year ago, while output since the start of the year was down 9.5% at 101.2 TWh.

Grid operator RTE said on April 8 that electricity consumption in France was down by between 15% and 20% due to confinement measures put in place by the government.

RTE said that while the situation remained uncertain, the main effect of the reduced economic activity, coupled with the duration of outages at EDF’s reactors, would be felt in the medium term and over several months.

A spokesman for EDF said on Tuesday that the utility was continuing its nuclear reactor maintenance operations, albeit with reduced teams for safety reasons. “The priority for now is to make sure we can continue to produce electricity in all safety and be ready for winter,” he said.

Nineteen of EDF’s 58 reactors representing around 34% of its nuclear generation capacity are offline for maintenance, according to a Reuters table.

EDF shares, which have bounced from a 2020 low of 5.978 euros set on March 19, were up 1.5% at 8.122 euros by 1004 GMT.

Reporting by Richard Lough and Bate Felix; Editing by David Holmes

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