September 22, 2015 / 6:40 AM / 2 years ago

EDF eyes renewables expansion outside Europe, CEO says

PARIS (Reuters) - French state-controlled utility EDF (EDF.PA) wants to expand into renewable energy beyond Europe, Chief Executive Jean-Bernard Levy told financial daily Les Echos in an interview published on Tuesday.

Jean-Bernard Levy, Chief Executive Officer of France's state-owned electricity company EDF, attends a news conference in Paris, France, September 3, 2015. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Levy said barely 5 percent of EDF’s assets were outside Europe, where there is little economic or demographic growth. He said EDF would remain in its key markets of France, Britain and Italy, but wanted to build up its international operations.

“By 2030, we want to have a significant presence in three to five countries outside Europe, notably in solar and wind,” Levy was quoted as saying.

Levy said EDF wanted to significantly accelerate its investment in the renewable sector.

“Our objective is to double our European and French renewables fleet by 2030 from 28 to more than 50 gigawatts,” he said.

In 2014, EDF produced 82 percent of its power with nuclear, 8 percent with hydropower and 5.7 percent with other renewables.

Asked how EDF would go about reducing the share of nuclear energy in power production to 50 percent by 2025 from about 75 percent now as required by French law, Levy said this would come from growing demand, repeating an argument made by his predecessor, Henri Proglio.

Proglio, whose mandate was not renewed by the government, had repeatedly said that reducing the share of nuclear would not come from closing nuclear plants but from increased power usage from new applications, despite the fact that French power demand has been stagnant in recent years.

Levy said new building regulations would boost electric heating. EDF is also betting on several million electric vehicles by 2030.

“On a 15-year horizon, we see 0.5 to 1 percent demand growth per year,” he said.

Levy said EDF would not reduce its investments in nuclear in France and Britain to finance its expansion in renewables. He added that this meant EDF would have to make choices, which was why it had placed all of its fossil fuel-based assets outside France under review.

Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by David Holmes and Keith Weir

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