Nuclear performs well for EDF

16 February 2012

EDF has posted strong results for the last financial year, with nuclear generation up by enough to counter an 'exceptionally poor' year for hydroelectricity.

EDF's nuclear power plants in France and the UK generated 421.1 TWh and 55.8 TWh respectively, beating targets and up on 2010 performance by 13 TWh. The UK's Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor fleet posted its best performance for six years.

One factor in the year-on-year increase in nuclear generation was the reduction of unplanned outages by a total of 594 days. The ending of long outages at Heysham and Sizewell B also helped, and the company noted "the positive impact of the large component replacement program" for the French fleet.

Generic approval for France's 900 MWe-class units to operate for a total of 40 years was granted in 2009 by safety regulators, subject to a major inspection at the 30-year mark. However, EDF's plan to repeat this process and operate for a total of 60 years requires the replacement of many major components, although it also offers an opportunity to increase output. A report by the Cour des Comptes (Court of Audit) confirmed this as the best economic choice for France, which looks to the nuclear sector for over 75% of its electricity.

EDF spent over €11 billion ($14.3 billion) on operating investment projects in 2011, with much of this going on component replacement. Last year it ordered 32 steam generators from Areva and 12 from Westinghouse for a total of €1.5 billion ($2 billion), and planned to upgrade monitoring and control equipment at some plants in a contract worth €600 million ($790 million) to Rolls-Royce.

About €1.1 billion ($1.4 billion) was allocated for nuclear new-build in the coming financial year. EDF is building a new reactor at Flamanville and preparing ground for another at Hinkley Point.

EDF's balance sheet shows some €37.2 billion ($48.5 billion) set aside in a fund for waste management and the decommissioning of its nuclear reactors at the end of their lives.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News