Blog May 31, 2019

During Q1 2019, the largest French power generator, Electricite de France (EDF), produced less electricity than Q1 2018, but managed to bring in more revenue. EDF was not alone in this unique position. Generally speaking, power production declined across the board in the UK and France from January to March this year, yet power generators did not suffer parallel revenue declines. In the UK, nuclear generation fell by ~16 percent and by ~1.5 percent in France.

Figure 1: EDF's quarterly publication shows France nuclear generation in Q1 2018-19
Figure 1: EDF's quarterly publication shows France nuclear generation in q1 2018-19. Click to enlarge

Figure 1 is from EDF’s quarterly publication and shows the evolution of nuclear generation in France between the first quarter of 2018 and 2019. Renewables (RES) generation in France was also down ~23 percent, ~32 percent of which was hydro.

The first quarter of 2019 brought a high number of facility outages and abnormal weather conditions. The temperate climate alone forced demand down. “The mild temperatures, compared to the first quarter of 2018, led to a 3.7 terawatt-hour (TWh) drop in [French] end customer consumption over the quarter,” said EDF.

In other areas, outages and changes to planned outages played a significant role in market response. In some cases, planned outages or closures were delayed. While market participants contemplated impacts of these outages early on, the delays meant that specific power sources would not be removed from the stack as scheduled. Some of these delays occurred in Hunterston B (Scotland), Dungeness B (England), and Flamanville (France) due to various reasons ranging from corrosion cracking to graphite inspection outages.

Our proprietary alerting system, seen in Figure 2, helped clients stay aware of changes in the start- or end date of an outage, as well as its status or the value of the generation cut.

Figure 2: Genscape's PowerRT alert screen for outage messages
Figure 2: Genscape's PowerRT alert screen for outage messages. Click to enlarge

While impacts of these production declines might imply similar revenue losses for a generator, external factors can actually force the opposite – increased revenues. On the sales side, EDF’s numbers were up 2.4 percent in France, 5.3 percent in Italy, and up 10 percent for RES across EDF’s portfolio. Higher Q1 wholesale forward power prices helped offset reduced volumes, with EDF’s French generation business delivering a 2.2 percent year-on-year increase in Q1 sales to €8.145 billion ($9.15 billion USD).

With the right information, clients made the most of potentially concerning production declines. Whether unexpected events effect generation in a nuclear park in France or any other thermal/renewable generation in Europe, we keep our clients aware of changes through real-time alerting. Alerts are customizable and can be triggered for changes in generation output, transmission flows or outage Urgent Market Messages (UMMs), providing customers with a range of tools to trade the European power market in real-time. To learn more, or to request a demo of PowerRT please click here