EDF Curbs Nuclear Generation to Allow for Wind and Solar on Grid

Electricite de France SA, the world’s biggest nuclear operator, is having to cut production from its reactors to accommodate higher European wind and solar output, potentially curbing future earnings from atomic power.

The utility, whose 58 French reactors account for about three-quarters of the country’s electricity production, can lower the output of a 1,000-megawatt plant by four-fifths in about 20 minutes, Dominique Miniere, deputy director of engineering and production at EDF, said today.

“Varying output is doable,” Miniere said at a press conference in Paris. While total production isn’t affected in the short term, “we are doing this more and more often.”

France’s nuclear fleet was designed to provide baseload power, or electricity generated around the clock. As European countries add more renewable sources such as wind and solar parks, plants that produce atomic or fossil-fueled power are having to suspend output to avoid overloading the grid.

Each of EDF’s reactors can book about 200 million euros ($278 million) a year in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, Miniere said. The utility has earmarked 55 billion euros to invest through 2025 on maintaining and improving the safety of atomic plants.

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