French energy firm EDF has revealed that core profits in its UK business bounced last year, as the business was able to charge much more for the electricity that its nuclear power plants and wind turbines produced.
The Government-owned giant became the latest in a series of energy companies to report that they had benefited from a spike in global energy prices sparked by the war in Ukraine.
But EDF’s story was one of problems at home and profits abroad as its French nuclear reactors had their worst year for outages in history.
In the UK, the company saw a big jump in operating profit before depreciation and amortisation to £1.12 billion last year, following a loss of £21 million in the previous year.
EDF said this was caused by “strong operational performance” across its nuclear fleet and increased prices.
Nevertheless, the UK business recording an operating loss of almost £1 billion once depreciation and one-off impairments were taken into account.
The business said that it had seen an organic increase in sales in the UK by 6.2 billion euros (£5.5 billion). Its nuclear power plants had produced 1.9 extra terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity last year because they were not shut down for maintenance as often, and that electricity was also selling at higher prices.
But the profits for EDF did not come from selling energy directly to households.
The cap on household energy prices meant that the arm of EDF that supplies gas and electricity to households was selling it for less than it was buying that energy for, pushing it into a loss of £200 million.
So high energy prices hurt the energy supplier arm of EDF, but the arm that makes electricity to sell to energy suppliers bounced.
It came as the wider group plunged to five billion euro (£4.46 billion) loss as repairs impacted the group’s nuclear output for the year.
The outages in France also had an impact in the UK. Normally, Britain imports a significant chunk of its electricity from France.
But as the French nuclear fleet was in crisis, British gas and nuclear power plants and wind farms sent electricity into France, pushing Britain’s electricity exports to new highs.
Luc Remont, chairman and chief executive officer of EDF, said: “The 2022 results were significantly affected by the decline in our electricity output, and also by exceptional regulatory measures introduced in France in difficult market conditions.
“Despite all the challenges, EDF actively focused on service and support for all its residential and business customers, and made every endeavour to ensure the best generation fleet availability for the winter period.”
The update comes a day after British Gas owner Centrica saw profits to triple to around £3.3 billion for the past year. Centrica’s profit jump came overwhelmingly from its nuclear power plants – which it co-owns with EDF – and from its energy trading business.