Despite an improved financial performance, achieved on the back of high UK energy prices, British Energy’s first half results show a significant drop in output, largely related to boiler tube cracking at a number of its nuclear stations.

Total output for the period was 31.9TWh, of which 2.9 TWh came from its coal-fired station at Eggborough. This was down from the 33.1 TWh for the previous year, including 2.5 TWh from Eggborough, which followed the decision to run Hunterston B and Hinkley Point B at 70% of capacity as a result of more extensive age-related boiler tube cracking than had initially been realised. The lowered output, a result of lower boiler temperatures, is aimed at slowing the progress of cracks within the boiler.

Announcing the results, chief executive Bill Coley acknowledged the role that high electricity prices had on the results saying: “While our output has been disappointing in the year to date, the first six months of 2006-07 have shown an improvement in financial performance compared to the first half last year, largely due to higher achieved electricity prices.”

Referring to the reduced output and the on-going implications of the boiler tube failures Coley added: “We’ve been impacted by unplanned losses in the first half of the year and of course boiler inspection repair and boiler management strategy will impact outputs significantly in the second half year.”