French state energy firm EDF said Thursday that lower electricity production due to stoppages of nuclear reactors would sap its operating profit by 29 billion euros ($29 billion) in 2022, worse than previously forecast.
Almost half of France’s reactor fleet is offline for maintenance pushed back during the coronavirus crisis, or because of problems with corrosion uncovered in some emergency cooling systems.
The company now estimates it will produce “on the low end of a range between 280-300 terawatt-hours” of electricity from its nuclear plants this year, well short of the 360 TWh generated in 2021.
The financial hit is five billion euros higher than the previous estimate of 24 billion euros.
While 26 of EDF’s 56 reactors are currently offline, EDF executive director Cedric Lewandowski told lawmakers Wednesday that five should restart in September, five more in October and seven in November, with the rest online by February.
But the firm still forecasts nuclear output below 2021 levels in 2023 and 2024.
Fearing shortages in case of a cold winter ahead, Paris has struck a natural gas-for-electricity deal with Berlin, which is more dependent on the fossil fuel that traditional supplier Russia has cut following its invasion of Ukraine.
Over the longer term, President Emmanuel Macron has also announced ambitions to build six new-generation reactors in the coming years.