EDF, Orano prepare for COVID-19 impact

24 March 2020

French utility EDF has scrapped its nuclear generation target for 2020 on an anticipated fall in output this year because of the coronavirus crisis. Fuel cycle company Orano has likewise suspended its financial outlook for this year.

Orano's La Hague reprocessing facility (Image: Orano)

With a combined generating capacity of 62.3 GWe, the 57 nuclear reactors EDF operates provide about 75% of France's electricity.

"The EDF Group is fully mobilised to maintain critical activities in the context of the COVID-19 sanitary crisis," the company said yesterday. "It has the financial and operational capacity to deliver necessary power in all scenarios currently contemplated in France."

It noted, however, that its maintenance schedule for reactors had been "interrupted" by the order from authorities for workers to remain at home.

"Consequently, the assumption of 375-390 TWh of nuclear production in France in 2020 is currently being reviewed and will be adjusted downwards," it said, adding that the reduced electricity demand is expected to have "a limited financial impact" on its supply and distribution businesses.

The company is maintaining its targeted EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) of EUR17.5-18.0 billion (USD18.9-19.5 billion) for 2020, although at the lower end of the range. It may revise this "when the outlook on availability and associated costs becomes clearer".

"Impacts for 2021 cannot be assessed precisely at this stage," it said. "The ongoing redefinition of the outage schedule, which aims primarily at maximising availability for the 2020-21 winter period, may however have a negative impact on 2021 output."

Orano, which last week suspended operation of its La Hague reprocessing plant, said it was taking "all the measures required to protect the health of its employees and secure its industrial facilities whilst ensuring the maintenance of activities critical to supplying its customers". It is suspending its financial outlook for 2020.

France's nuclear safety regulator, the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN), last week said it was working closely with the nuclear licensees and activity managers "to analyse the nuclear safety and radiation protection consequences of the measures taken to deal with the ongoing health emergency".

ASN said it was temporarily suspending most of its inspections in medical facilities carrying out nuclear activities to enable health professionals to focus on the response to the pandemic.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News