EDF Energies Nouvelles - growing beyond expectations

FRANCE: EDF Energies Nouvelles (EDF EN), the renewables arm of French utility EDF, far exceeded its operating and financial targets and analysts' expectations for 2009 after yet another year of strong growth.

Despite the difficult financial climate, earnings before interest, tax and depreciation (EBITDA) grew 47.3% to EUR334.2 million, well above the forecast of EUR280-300 million. At the same time, net income for the group was up 38.7% over the year to reach EUR97.9 million, while revenues rose 15.5% to EUR1,173.1 million.

The group's gross installed wind capacity increased by 619MW in 2009 to reach 2.65GW on December 31. This is distributed as follows:

- US, 965MW
- Portugal, 496MW
- France, 368MW
- Italy, 291MW
- Greece, 187MW
- UK, 177MW
- Turkey, 94MW
- Germany, 3MW
- Mexico, 38MW
- Belgium, 30MW

The US contributed 257MW of the new capacity installed in 2009, followed by France at 105MW and Italy at 58MW. EDF EN reports 713.4MW under construction at the end of the year, of which 365MW is on its own account.

Good generation

Revenues from wind generation remained the key growth driver, up by over 60% over 2008 figures, despite poor wind conditions in the UK, Italy and the US. Operations and maintenance posted an increase of almost 43%, reaching EUR334.2 million, thanks to contracts signed by US subsidiary Enxco. By year end, Enxco's contracts totalled 4.7GW, made up of around 5,400 turbines.

Revenues from the sale of assets fell 12.6% to EUR497.6 million in 2009. And the group forecasts a slow start to 2010, with almost no sales expected in the first six months.

Nevertheless, Paris Mouratoglou, Chairman of EDF EN, says the group is confident of delivering further strong growth in 2010 and is aiming for a EUR430-450 million EBITDA target. The group also raised its 2013 objectives from 4GW to 4.2GW, including 500MW of solar power. This reflects a tax-related change in accounting for certain US wind power projects. Previously, EDF EN only counted its share of the project; now total capacity is included.

The group says these forecasts will not be affected by the recent news from the US that Indiana Power and Light has cancelled a power purchase agreement (PPA) for the 201MW Lakefield project under development. EDF EN is exploring other options, including signing PPAs with other electricity companies.