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EDF continues course for renewables as UK nuclear prices hit bottom line

French energy major EDF has pointed towards a future more renewable after collapsing nuclear power prices in the UK sent its earnings down by one-fifth.

In its H1 results disclosure released late last week, the firm reported EBITDA for the period of €7 billion, down one-fifth year-on-year.

And it was EDF’s UK-facing unit which reported particularly poor performance, with country-specific EBITDA falling more than one-third (34.4%) to €627 million. This, the company said, was the result of a “significant impact of lower realised nuclear prices”.

Meanwhile the company also noted milder weather in the UK affecting power demand and, in turn, revenues.

Jean-Bernard Lévy, chairman and chief executive at EDF, said that the group was continuing to implement its performance plan within an “unfavourable market” and pointed towards the firm’s renewables arm as cause for confidence.

“The first half of 2017 was marked by an acceleration in the area of renewable energies, with, in particular, the takeover of Futuren and the increase in installed net capacity,” he said.

While EBITDA from EDF’s Énergies Nouvelles (EN) division contracted more than 20% year-on-year to €113 million, its net installed capacity was up 0.8GW to 6.7GW as of 30 June 2017 and it has another 2.4GW under construction, 900MW of which is solar PV. EDF’s acquisition of Futuren has also boosted its ambition in renewables, while its purchase of Imtech is expected to contribute significantly to a target of doubled sales of its energy services division by 2025.

The differing performance of EDF’s separate units follows yet more difficult headlines for the Hinkley Point C nuclear project it intends to complete in the UK. Earlier this month EDF confirmed the expected project costs had swelled to just shy of £20 billion, heaping yet more scrutiny on a project dubbed “risky” and “high cost” by the National Audit Office last month.

All the while projected development costs of solar and onshore wind continue to tumble in the UK, and the government last week unveiled a future vision for a UK power market far more decentralised than the status quo.