EDF Group

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World's largest nuclear operator


The EDF Group consists of over 70 affiliates and investments in addition to the parent company. It has investments in 22 countries and offers services and consulting in 35 countries. Until August 2004, EDF (Electricite de France) was wholly owned by the French State. EDF is now a limited company, allowed to sell shares in up to 30 per cent of the company. Its shares have been listed on the Paris stock-market since November 2005. [1]

As of December 2011, investors owned 15.5 per cent of EDF’s shares, including the 1.84 per cent owned by employees. The French State holds the remaining 84.5 per cent.[2] A major focus for the group, has been the opening up of the French energy market since July 2007. [3] As well as France, EDF has a major presence in the UK (EDF Energy), Germany and Italy. The Group has Europe’s largest electricity generation capacity, and the world’s largest nuclear capacity.

Globally, EDF has 37.7 million customers, with 36 million of those in Europe and 26 million in France. It has 134.6 GW of capacity of which 99.3 is in France or overseas colonies, and 13 in the UK. Of this capacity, 74.8 GW was nuclear genererated, providing almost 80 per cent of EDF’s global output of electricity in 2011.

In 2012, EDF owned and operated 78 nuclear reactors - 58 in France , 15 in the UK and five in the US. The company is also involved in nuclear power in China. [4]


France is the second largest electronuclear power generator in the world behind the United States. [5] EDF is its largest supplier of nuclear energy, running 58 reactors on 19 sites, providing 77.7 per cent of France’s electricity.[6][7]

In October 2004, EDF announced that it would build a prototype next-generation European Pressurised Water Reactor on the Normandy coast. EDF claimed the new reactor would be safer, cheaper and more environmentally friendly than those already in use.[8]

A second white elephant for Europe?

The Olkiluoto-3 reactor, currently under construction in Finland, is the first new reactor to be built in Europe since the Chernobyl disaster 20 years ago. [9] It will be the world’s first European Pressurised Water Reactor (EPR) reactor and is being built by a consortium of Areva and Siemens. The project is about five years behind schedule. [10]

Despite Olkiluoto's well-documented problems, EDF has proceeded to build its EPR at Flamanville in Normandy, France – the third reactor on the site. EDF says completion of the EPR project is a key step in the process of renewing French nuclear generation capacity. Flamanville was supposed to be up and running by 2012, with construction costs of €3.3bn, but the plant is now not expected to open until 2016 and will cost €6bn.[11]

The EPR design is a development of existing reactor designs. Reminiscent of the 1978 decision by the UK’s Labour Government to go-ahead with the Torness nuclear station in East Scotland (“A £2500 million mistake”) [12] to keep the AGR reactor design option open, Flamanville is being built, not because the electricity is required, but as a “showcase for the industrial know-how of EDF and its European partners”. [13]

The French anti-nuclear group, Sortir du Nucleaire (SN),[14] argues that the building permit awarded for Flamanville was wrongly granted. "EPR will just be used as a shop window to sell reactors to China," it argues. "We don't need to build any more reactors as those we have can be used until 2025." [15] In fact EDF set up a joint venture company with China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corp, ( CGNPC) to build two EPRs at Taishan in China with construction starting in 2009. [16]

Lack of decommissioning funds

In January 2005, France's Court of Accounts, which oversees the finances of public bodies and state-owned enterprises, published a controversial report in which it said that debt-laden EDF had only an "embryo" of the money needed for decommissioning and waste management after the closure of its nuclear facilities. EDF's heavy spending on acquisitions had squandered its finances, with decommissioning funds used to buy up companies abroad including large swathes of the British energy sector, and a stake in the Italian utility Edison. [17]

The Court of Accounts said EDF's preparations for nuclear decommissioning raised concerns that decommissioning costs would fall on future consumers or the state. Having unnecessarily given large contracts to Areva to reprocess its spent fuel, EDF had accumulated over 80 tonnes of plutonium, and vast quantities of nuclear waste at the reprocessing plant at La Hague. As a result, it had insufficient funds to cover such huge liabilities. [17]

Under a new 2006 law on financing nuclear expenses however, EDF was required to build up a portfolio of dedicated assets to meet future decommissioning and waste storage costs.

In January 2011 EDF Group announced that it had allocated half of the shares in grid operator Réseau de Transport d’Electricité (RTE) to a portfolio of assets for the decommissioning of its fleet of 58 nuclear power reactors. The company said the move would improve its debt ratio,

According to EdF, the transfer of 50% of RTE shares to the fund will save the company from having to allocate €2.3 billion in cash ($3.1 billion) by 2016. The portfolio, which has been gradually built up since 2000, totalled €12.4 billion ($16.6 billion) at the end of June 2010. RTE owns and operates 100,000 kilometres of very high voltage power lines covering France and 45 cross border lines. [18]

EDF spies on Greenpeace

In April 2009 a senior EDF executive of EDF was charged on suspicion of spying on the environmental group Greenpeace.[19] According to The Guardian:

The investigation is centred on the 2006 hacking of a computer system used by Yannick Jadot, who was then Greenpeace campaigns director. EDF, which runs France's network of 58 electricity-producing nuclear reactors, has often been the target of Greenpeace campaigns. Greenpeace has speculated that the hacking incident could have been linked to their campaign to block EDF's construction of a vast, new generation nuclear reactor in Flamanville on the north coast.[20]

Two-and-a-half years later EDF was fined 1.5 million euros by a French court after being found guilty of spying on Greenpeace. The trial, which concluded in November 2011, revealed that EDF had compiled a dossier on Greenpeace UK, dating back to the period when the French company was moving into the British nuclear market.

Greenpeace UK's executive director John Sauven told Channel 4 News that EDF should give a full account of the action it mounted against its critics.

"As one of the six companies with a monopoly over electricity supply in this country and a major sponsor of the Olympics, EDF has a duty to come clean," he said. [21]

Energy imperialism?

Italy & Germany

EDF owns 50 per cent of Edison, Italy's second largest utility, which has an installed capacity of 11.5GW and around 11.5 per cent of the Italian electricity market and 19.6% of the gas market. EDF also owns 100 per cent of a smaller Italian utility , Fenice, which has an installed capacity of 0.5GW. EDF sold its share of the German utility EnBW in 2010. [22]

Central and Eastern Europe

EDF Group has four subsidiaries in Poland, which together have a capacity of about 3140 Mwe of electricity and 4,000 MWth of heat. In November 2006, EDF purchased the remaining shares in the Hungarian company, Demasz, having owned only 60.95 per cent of shares in 2005. Demasz is an electricity distribution and supply company.[23] EDF 2005 Annual Report also reports that EDF owns 95.57 per cent of the Hungarian generation company BERt which has an installed capacity of 392Mwe. EDF also owns 49 per cent of the Slovak electricity sales and distribution company, SSE, which has around 30 per cent of the Slovak market.

North America

EDF Inc owns almost 2 GW of nuclear in the United States through a 49.99 per cent stake in Constellation Energy Nuclear Group (CENG). [24]

Sales contributions

France - 30,126 million euros

UK [EDF Energy] - 6,674 million euros

UK [EDF Trading] - 441 million euros

Germany - 5,005 million euros

Italy [Edison] - 1,010 million euros

Italy [Fenice] - 480 million euros

EDF globally

EDF has been divesting itself of investments in Latin America after some spectacular losses in 2004. EDF has also been active in Asia where it has worked on, among other things, nuclear construction projects. The company says more than half of the electricity generating plants built worldwide between now and 2020 will be in Asia. The Group has been active in China for more than 20 years, participating in the construction and operation of the Daya Bay and Ling Ao nuclear plants. EDF is the largest foreign investor in China’s electricity sector.

EDF International North America Inc is a member of the NuStart Consortium.[25]


  1. EDF SA Shareholders Information website, accessed November, 2006.
  2. Shareholding StructureEDF Group website, accessed August 2012.
  3. Presentation of the Group, EDF Group website (accessed November, 2006).
  4. 'EDF's presence in China' and 'EDF's presence in the USA', undated, accessed February 2006
  5. Year 2011 Facts and Figures EDF 2012, accessed August 2012.
  6. EDF website: 'Nuclear power, a safe and competitive energy', undated, accessed February 2006.
  7. Year 2011 Facts and Figures EDF 2012, accessed August 2012.
  8. David Gow, 'EDF to build nuclear prototype', The Guardian, 22 October 2004.
  9. Luke Harding, “Caught Between Global Warming and an Energy Crisis, Blair looks North for Answers”, The Guardian, 14 April, 2006.
  10. Stellfox, D. Areva-Siemens win €125 million from TVO over OL3, but €2 billion is in dispute, i-Nuclear 5th July 2012, accessed August 2012.
  11. Terry Macalister EDF admits French nuclear reactor delayed but says UK projects on target, Guardian, 20 July 2011, accessed August 2012.
  12. Alf Young, “Torness plant was 'a £2500m mistake’”, Glasgow Herald, 10 November, 1989
  13. "Nuclear Energy and the EPR Project at Flamanville-3", EDF Press Kit, October, 2006.
  14. Sortir du Nucleaire website
  15. Terry Macalister, “Sell-off of Nuclear Plants Faces Delay”, The Guardian, 22 August, 2006.
  16. Greenpeace, The EPR Nuclear Reactor, Greenpeace January 2012, accessed August 2012
  17. 17.0 17.1 Le démantèlement des installations nucléaires et la gestion des déchets radioactifs, Cour des Comptes, January, 2005
  18. EdF allocates RTE shares to nuclear fund, World Nuclear News, 04 January 2011, acc 24 August 2012
  19. Angelique Chrisafis, "French energy company executive charged with spying on Greenpeace", The Guardian, 1 April 2009, accessed 5 April 2009
  20. Angelique Chrisafis, "French energy company executive charged with spying on Greenpeace", The Guardian, 1 April 2009, accessed 5 April 2009
  21. Tom Clarke, Energy giant EDF hit by spying fine, Channel 4 News, 10 November 2011, acc 30 August 2011
  22. Year 2011 Facts and Figures EDF 2012, accessed August 2012.
  23. " EDF successfully completes public purchase offer for Demasz", EDF Press Release, 15 November, 2006.
  24. Year 2011 Facts and Figures EDF 2012, accessed August 2012.
  25. EDF International North America Inc. website, accessed December, 2006.