French EDF keen on hydro, renewable projects in Turkey

– French energy group EDF views Turkey as ‘growth country’ with more room for nuclear, renewable and hydro projects, VP says
– French energy giant EDF Group is “very interested” in the Turkish market, and in getting involved in hydro energy projects as well as further developing its activities in renewables, Simone Rossi, the group’s senior executive vice president in charge of the international division, said.“Turkey has an important energy agenda highlighting the security and affordability of supply,” Rossi said in an interview on the sidelines of the World Energy Congress of which Anadolu Agency is the global communication partner for 2016.

“The possibility of rising demand, the size of the population, the growth of the economy and the desire of the country to become more independent in energy supplies keeps us interested in Turkey,” Rossi said.

Based in Paris and largely owned by the French state, EDF has operations in Europe, South America, North America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

“There is definitely more room for nuclear, renewable and hydro energy projects in Turkey,” Rossi said. “This will allow the country to become more independent and in control of its energy supply.”

EDF Energies Nouvelles, the group’s renewable energy arm, holds a 45 percent stake in Turkey’s Polat Enerji, one of the principal developers of Turkey’s wind energy market. Polat Enerji has an installed gross capacity of 630 megawatts (MW) and 510 MW of net capacity in wind power, according to its website.

EDF would like to invest more in renewables in Turkey as well as advance its existing operations, according to Rossi.  The company has also been looking into a number of hydro energy projects in the last few years and will invest when it finds the right opportunity, he said.

– Polat partnership symbolizes EDF’s “way of business”

The company remained “very happy” with its partnership with Polat as it “symbolized” EDF’s way of doing business outside of France, Rossi said.

“The partnership is a fusion of local knowledge and our global technology and it produces very good results,” he said.

EDF also supported Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in the Sinop nuclear power plant in Turkey “in the global framework of their partnership with them,” Rossi emphasized.

“As a technology provider, Mitsubishi seeks the strength of a nuclear operator to support the introduction of this project in Turkey,” Rossi said.

“EDF is an experienced nuclear operator that can help them in this aspect,” he added.

A consortium comprising Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Itochu Corp and France’s GDF Suez are building the Sinop nuclear power plant in northern Turkey. The 4,800 MW plant is planned to be operational by 2023.

– Turkish investments to continue

Rossi also said EDF would continue investing in Turkey as long as the country’s financial framework remained stable despite the failed coup attempt of July 15 and the recent downgrade to junk level of the country’s sovereign rating by Moody’s Investors Service.

“Downgrades do happen, but what matters is if you can still attract financial resources,” Rossi said. “It is not the first time that a downgrade hasn’t had a particular impact on the financial situation. For us, Turkey’s fundamentals did not change.”

Also commenting on the recent downgrade of EDF’s credit rating by Moody’s, Rossi said this did not mean it would translate into more expensive funding for the company.

“A week after the downgrade, we were still able to tap into the financial markets. We raised funds and issued bonds at unprecedented low rates,” he remarked.

– Hinkley Point no “overstretch”

Rossi also said the £18 billion Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in the U.K. that EDF planned to build with China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) would not overstretch the company in terms of timeline and budget.

“The project is of strategic importance for the EDF Group,” Rossi said adding that “it has been in preparation for several years. We now have a schedule and a budget that we are very comfortable with.”

Rossi said at the peak of the investment, the Hinkley project would each year represent about 10 percent of EDF’s total investments. “It is sizeable but it is not overwhelming for us,” he said.

Rossi also indicated that EDF had been working with CGN, its partner in the project for more than 30 years. “We know each other extremely well. EDF is also the largest utility company in the U.K. so we have extensive knowledge of the country. This is a good combination,” he said.

EDF Group’s long-term vision aims at helping customers reduce their energy consumption, deploy low carbon production methods, such as nuclear or renewables, as well as expand internationally, Rossi stressed.

“Our international business currently represents only one third of EDF’s revenues. We want this share to grow,” he said. “

Turkey is definitely one of our growth countries. It offers lots of potential in terms of its energy needs and EDF has the skills to play a role in this great market,” he concluded.