EDF extends depreciation period for 900MWe reactors

9 August 2016

France's EDF has extended the accounting depreciation period of its fleet of 900MWe power reactors from 40 years to 50 years. During the first six months of this year, "all of the technical, economic and governance conditions necessary to align the accounting depreciation period of the French nuclear fleet with the group's industrial strategy were met", EDF said.

It added, "The consolidated financial statements at 30 June 2016, approved by the board of directors on 28 July 2016, include the extension from 40 to 50 years of the depreciation period for the 900MWe series plants excluding Fessenheim on 1 January 2016 and does not prejudice the decisions to authorise the continued operation which will be made unit by unit by the French nuclear safety authority (ASN) after each 10-year visit."

In July 2009, ASN approved EDF's general safety case for 40-year operation of the 900MWe units, based on generic assessment of the 34 reactors, although the individual reactors must still pass their ten-yearly review. Tricastin 1 became the first such reactor to complete its third ten-yearly review in 2010. This was followed by Fessenheim 1 in 2011. However, under France's energy transition law, Fessenheim - France's oldest nuclear power plant - is set to close by the end of this year.

The extended depreciation is part of its industrial strategy to extend the operating period of the French nuclear fleet beyond 40 years. "It is based on the technical capacity of the facilities to run for at least 50 years, supported by international benchmarks, as well as the progressive investments made as part of the 'Grand Carénage' programme," EDF said. The company announced the operating period extension programme for the existing fleet in France in 2011.

EDF said the extended depreciation period had the effect on its income statement of reducing the asset depreciation expenses and the costs of unwinding the discount to the amount of €0.5bn ($0.6bn) in the first half of 2016, with a reduction of €1bn estimated for the whole of the year. The extension also increased EDF's net incoming, excluding non-recurring items, by €0.3bn in the first half of 2016, and is expected to lead to an estimated increase of €0.6bn for the whole year. The impacts on the balance sheet correspond to a reduction in nuclear provisions of €2.1bn at 1 January. "These investments will allow the 900MWe series of pressurised water reactors to approach as closely as possible the safety level of the EWPR, one of the highest in the world, after their fourth 10-year inspection", EDF said.

The depreciation period for the newer 1,300MWe and 1,450MWe series of reactors remains at 40 years as the conditions for an extension have not yet been met, the EDF noted. "The later extension of the other more recent series remains part of the group's industrial strategy, which will be implemented according to energy policy goals," it said.

EDF said output from its French fleet of reactors totalled 205.2TWh in the first half of 2016, down 5.2TWh compared with the same period in 2015 due to mild weather and extended outages at some units for additional inspections. It has forecast generation of 395-400TWh for the whole of 2016, down from an earlier estimate of 408-412TWh. 

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