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Being a responsible, long-term partner to Britain

Photo courtesy EDF

Simone Rossi, CEO

Simone Rossi, CEO | EDF

5 min read Partner content

On Wednesday, EDF announced an important step forward in our commitment to helping UK householders cut bills and shift to net zero, with the acquisition of solar panel and battery installer Contact Solar.

This follows our acquisition last year of heat pump installer, CB Heating, and moves us one step closer to being able to offer ‘whole house’ net zero home offers, combining solar, battery, EV charge points and heat pumps.

We also announced this week that we have reached an agreement with Kistos to sell our gas storage site in Cheshire, signalling EDF’s exit from thermal operations in the UK.

We continue to reshape our business to be fully in line with our ambition to help Britain achieve net zero, as part of a long-term partnership with the country. At the end of last year, we celebrated 25 years of investment into Britain. During that time, we’ve invested £25 billion. By 2035, we’ll go even further, enabling over £50 billion of investment by developing 15GW of zero-carbon electricity – nuclear, wind and solar. Over the past six years, we have invested £2 in the UK for every £1 made in EBITDA.

2023 saw us maintain our position as Britain’s biggest generator of zero-carbon electricity, with our existing nuclear fleet providing around 13% (37TWh) of the UK’s total power demand. Output from our existing nuclear power stations was 15% lower than in 2022 due to station closures and statutory outages, but nearly four times the forecast when we acquired the fleet in 2009. Without EDF’s investment and expertise, Sizewell B would be the only operational nuclear power station in the UK today and nuclear would provide just 3% of the UK’s power consumption.

Earlier this year, we announced plans to invest a further £1.3 billion into our existing fleet, taking the total invested in the fleet to nearly £9 billion since EDF’s acquisition. Our plan is to maintain output from our existing nuclear fleet at around 2023 levels until at least 2026, and to further extend the lives of the four generating AGR stations, subject to inspections and regulatory approvals. As well as the positive impact on energy security and carbon emissions, keeping the existing fleet running for longer will help to sustain many of the fleet’s 5,000 jobs while maintaining vital nuclear skills – the latter crucial if we are to deliver Government’s ambitions to develop 24GW of new nuclear capacity by 2050.

We’re proud to be playing a leading role in turning plans into reality with our new nuclear project at Hinkley Point C in Somerset – the first nuclear plant to be built in the UK in a generation. Once operational, Hinkley Point C will generate enough zero-carbon power for six million homes, around 7% of the UK’s electricity generation. Today, around 22,000 jobs are supported by Hinkley Point C across Britain, with over 1,300 apprentices trained on-site so far. Some 3,700 British companies are in the supply chain, with £5.3 billion being spent with South West companies alone.

In December, the project achieved a major milestone, with the dome successfully lifted onto the first reactor building, allowing the next phase of work to accelerate. But going first isn’t always easy, as the UK relearns how to build nuclear after a 20-year pause. Last month, we provided an update on the costs and schedule for Hinkley Point C. The aim is to bring Unit 1 into service around the end of the decade.

Of course, achieving net zero will require us to generate low carbon electricity from a range of sources – baseload and intermittent, proven and promising potential, which is why at EDF we’re committed to investing in a broad and diverse portfolio of zero-carbon generation. In 2023, our renewables business, EDF Renewables, saw continued growth across all renewables technologies. Today, it operates over 30 onshore and two offshore wind farms, with 1.5GW in operation and almost 14GW in planning or development, including solar and battery storage. As well as battery construction, EDF is also the UK’s leading provider of battery optimisation services, signing 961MW of contracts in 2023.

When we talk about net zero, we need to remember that people are at the heart of it. We can only be successful if people have the tools, the technology and – most importantly – the will to make it happen. The transition to net zero is seeing customers becoming users, producers and storers of power. Customers are helping to drive the shift to more flexibility across the whole energy system. Earlier this week, EDF provided an update on the second year of its ‘Beat the Peak’ flexibility scheme, enabling customers with smart meters to earn credit on their account for reducing their electricity usage – while saving carbon at the same time too.

Ensuring that more customers can benefit from the opportunities presented by net zero will rely on a successful smart meter rollout, which is a crucial enabler for a smart and flexible energy system. It will also require us to redouble efforts to drive the adoption of low carbon technologies.

We also need to be mindful of the wider context for our customers, with the cost of living crisis remaining front of mind for many. Recent research we conducted found that energy featured as the top household cost that people are worrying about most (66%). To help struggling households this winter, EDF boosted direct support for those most in need by more than £15 million as well as increasing our 2023 ECO and Great British Insulation Scheme funding by £103 million to increase energy efficiency for households. Moving forward, it is essential that the Default Tariff Cap, or any future price control mechanism, is fit for net zero, and we continue to make the case for a social tariff to support those most in need.

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