French utility firm EDF Energy has reported a rise in its first-half core earnings, with an increase of almost 18% of up to €8.23bn on its hydropower output, as well as a rebound in its nuclear energy production.

Combined, improved nuclear and hydro production raised the company’s core earnings by €544m, with an additional €469m gained through improved wholesale market conditions.

Hydropower output in France was the highest half-yearly hydro output in the last 15 years, rising to 29.3TWh, an increase of almost 40% or 8TWh.

Nuclear production in France rose 2.7%, or 5.4TWh, to 202.6TWh compared to the end of June 2017. The increase was attributed to the higher availability of the firm’s nuclear fleet as compared to the first half of 2017, during which several reactor outages occurred as a result of manufacturing problems at the Creusot nuclear foundry.

The company’s Flamanville 3 nuclear reactor is currently undergoing corrective actions on welds, with the schedule slightly delayed as a result. However, the EPR in its Taishan 1 site had its first connection, and a strategic cooperation agreement was signed with GE Power for the construction of six further EPRs in India.

A partnership agreement has also been signed with Dassault Systèmes and Capgemini to ‘digitally transform’ EDF’s nuclear engineering capabilities.

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By GlobalData

EDF slightly increased its 2018 earnings guidance to €14.8bn-€15.3bn, up from €14.6bn-€15.3bn. It also confirmed that it is on track for cash flow close to balance, excluding investments made in its Linky smart meters and asset disposals.

Sales in renewable energies in the first half of 2018 rose by 9.2% to €735 million compared to the first half of 2017. EBITDA for all of Group Renewables was €1,106m in the first half of 2018, an increase of 20.6%.

According to EDF, the commissioning and purchasing of wind and solar power assets in 2017 had a marked beneficial effect at the end of June 2018.

Overall, company sales rose 5.6% to €35.18bn, while EBIT fell to €3.65bn, a decrease of 6%.

EDF also said its net financial debt to EBITDA ratio had improved to 2.1 times from 2.4 times at the end of last year.

The group also reiterated its aim to reduce carbon emissions by 40% between 2017 and 2030, having achieved -35% between 2013 and 2017.

EDF CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy said the half-year results ‘confirm the rebound announced for 2018, thanks to a solid operational performance and to the continuation of the cost reduction efforts’, adding that the company is ‘pursuing its transformation and the deployment of CAP 2030 strategy in the service of the energy transition’.

The CAP 2030 strategy is intended to place EDF at the forefront of renewable development. It includes plans such as supporting local authorities and companies more closely, doubling its global renewable energy capacity, extending the life of its existing nuclear fleet in France, and increasing its share of international business by 2030.