Home News French power company EDF underestimating costs: study

French power company EDF underestimating costs: study

Published on November 17, 2016

France's power giant EDF has "drastically" under-budgeted the cost of dismantling its old reactors and investing in new projects such as a contested British nuclear plant, a Greenpeace-commissioned study said Thursday.

The amount of under-budgeted costs for state-controlled EDF to take old reactors out of commission and deal with waste disposal is evaluated at between 57.3 and 63.4 billion euros in 2025 ($61.3 – $67.8 billion), the study said.

This is more than double the current value of the company, which is nearly 25 billion euros, said the report’s authors, financial analysis firm AlphaValue.

The heavily-indebted French power company has recently hit international headlines over its construction of the Hinkley Point plant in southwestern England.

Following a string of controversies, the contract for building Britain’s first nuclear plant in a generation was finally signed at the end of September by EDF and a Chinese partner.

AlphaValue said it based its calculations on EDF figures as well as those in several reports by the French government body charged with auditing state-controlled firms.

According to these reports, EDF faces closing at least 17 of its 58 reactors under France’s plans to reduce its reliance on nuclear in favour of renewable energies such as wind and solar.

AlphaValue also compared EDF’s cost calculations against those of other nuclear power operators in other countries, in particular Germany.

These comparisons “should be analysed with caution because there are different parameters in different countries which explain the differences,” an EDF spokesman told AFP.

Moreover, EDF’s provisions for decommissioning costs were approved by the energy ministry in 2014 and 2015, the spokesman added.

AlphaValue also said that EDF should consider reducing in its accounts the value of its nuclear and conventional power plants, given the transformation of the European energy market where renewable capacity is increasing while overall electricity demand is expected to slowly decline.

EDF said its analysis didn’t show any risk of a drop in the value of its assets.

AlphaValue estimated that EDF would need to invest more than 160 billion euros between now and 2025 to construct Hinkley Point, maintain its reactors, develop renewables and buy the reactor business of Areva, or more than 15 billion euros per year.

Meanwhile EDF estimates its investment needs at between 12.5 and 13.5 billion euros per year for the coming three years.

On the positive side, the reduction of nuclear capacity will likely cause electricity prices to rise, which around 2025 should lead to increases in EDF’s revenues.