PARIS (Reuters) -French power group EDF further cut its nuclear output forecast for this year on Thursday and said it now expected lower production to shave 29 billion euros ($29 billion) off its core earnings in 2022 - its fifth profit warning this year.
EDF, which is in the process of being fully nationalised, said nuclear output would come in at the lower end of a previously announced 280-300 terawatt-hours range - which was already a 30-year low.
As a result, it now expects a 29-billion euro hit to its EBITDA for the year, compared with a 24 billion euros forecast made at the end of July.
"Based on the estimated nuclear output in France for 2022 at the lower end of the 280-300TWh range and the 2022 forward prices on 13 September 2022, the estimated impact of the decline in nuclear output on EBITDA for 2022 compared to 2021 is reassessed at around -29 billion euros", EDF said.
An unprecedented number of reactor outages, partly due to corrosion issues, has driven French nuclear power output to an historic low just as Europe scrambles to find alternative supplies to Russian gas.
EDF's outgoing CEO said the debt-laden utility's maintenance schedule to make sure its nuclear reactors come back online in time for the winter was well on track.
In an effort to help citizens cope with soaring bills, the French government on Wednesday said power price increases next year will be capped at 15%, lifting a 4% cap in effect this year.
EDF on Thursday said that as a result, its financial targets for end-2023 will be subject to a review once the regulatory details for the year are defined.
It also confirmed a 2023 nuclear output target of 300-330 terawatt hours, still well below the utility's yearly average over the last years.
($1 = 1.0040 euros)
(Reporting by Tassilo Hummel, editing by Silvia Aloisi)